Sportopedia Glossary

Athlee Burnout

Athlee Burnout

Athlete Burnout: As an aversive, chronic experiential state, athlete burnout has been characterized by three interrelated components: (1) emotional and physical exhaustion; (2) sport devaluation; and (3) a reduced sense of performance accomplishment in sport (Gustafsson, DeFreese, & Madigan, 2017; Hodge & Kentta¨, 2016). This symptom-based definition allows for cases in which athletes are suffering from burnout symptoms, but have not discontinued their sport participation. Over the past 20 years, researchers
have primarily focused on investigating possible antecedents of athlete burnout, with a limited focus on the consequences of athlete burnout (see Gustafsson et al., 2017, for a review). Numerous empirical studies have examined psychological antecedents such as perceived stress, perfectionism, motivation, and motivational climate (Barcza-Renner, Eklund, Morin, & Habeeb, 2016; Gustafsson et al., 2017). Research indicates that a number. of interpersonal (e.g., controlling coach and pee motivational climates) and intrapersonal factors (e.g., extrinsic/controlled motivation, socially prescribed perfectionism) are associated with higher levels of athlete burnout (Barcza-Renner et al., 2016; Gustafsson et al., 2017).

Athletes reporting high levels of athlete burnout also report feeling depressed, irritated and exhausted, lower levels of performance; as well as increased anxiety/negative affect, and lower levels of enjoyment and athlete engagement. On the other hand, athletes reporting low levels of athlete burnout also reported autonomy supportive coaching styles, strong social support, and high levels of autonomous motivation and athlete engagement (Langan, Blake, Toner, & Lonsdale, 2015). In addition, research has revealed strong inverse relationships between dispositional hope, dispositional optimism, athlete engagement, and athlete burnout (see Gustafsson et al., 2017; Hodge & Kentta¨, 2016 for reviews).


Barcza-Renner, K., Eklund, R., Morin, A., & Habeeb, C. (2016). Controlling coaching behaviors and athlete burnout: Investigating the mediating roles of perfectionism and motivation. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 38, 30 44.

Gustafsson, H., DeFreese, J., & Madigan, D. (2017). Athlete burnout: Review and recommendations. Current Opinion in Psychology, 16, 109 113.

Hodge, K., & Kentta¨, G. (2016). Athlete burnout. In R. Schinke, K. McGannon, & B. Smith (Eds.), The Routledge International Handbook of Sport Psychology (pp. 157 166). Oxford, UK: Routledge.

Langan, E., Blake, C., Toner, J., & Lonsdale, C. (2015). Testing the effects of a self-determination theory-based intervention with youth Gaelic football Coaches on athlete motivation and burnout. The Sport Psychologist, 29, 293 301.

***Contributed by Ken Hodge for Hackfort, D., Schinke, R. J., & Strauss, B. (Eds.). (2019). Dictionary of sport psychology: sport, exercise, and performing arts. Academic Press.