Why Downtime Is Beneficial In Avoiding Burnout in Youth Sports

Downtime = reduced activity or inactivity. Athletes typically have very little downtime and some even feel anxious around taking time to rest. What if we told you that downtime can actually be beneficial in the longevity of your athletic performance? Downtime doesn’t have to mean taking weeks off to sit on the couch and melt into the cushions, but it can be scheduled out throughout the week to protect the athlete’s body and mental state. No person can go constantly, and it’s becoming more normal to promote mental breaks, days off, and balance.

If your child is a travel team athlete and your weekends are constantly filled with trips, games after games, and very little time home to regroup, follows these tips to carve out some downtime even when you’re on the go.

Using the time in transit to rest

While for the driver it’s far from relaxing, your athlete can use the time in the passenger seat to rest. If you’re driving your athlete to practice or a game, encourage your child to use this time to relax. Even though having to travel far during the week and weekends can be a daunting task, it can also be a perfect opportunity to put on some headphones, catch up on podcasts and audiobooks, and make new playlists. Allow your child to use this time in their own way. Try to avoid talk about the sporting event, unless they bring it up.

Take stops

Scheduling out some time to break up trips with new restaurants, museum visits, and park time is a great way to implement downtime on sport travel events that are typically centered around the sport. Downtime doesn’t necessarily have to mean napping and or sitting, it can also be doing an activity entirely different than the sport itself. Tap into other interests your child may be curious about. Show them your adventurous side by pulling over after a long day of games to a cool ice cream parlor or family owned restaurant on the journey home.

Protect your time

When it comes to time, it’s okay to be a little bit selfish. You can also be selfish with your child’s time; to protect them. If you are starting to notice that entire weeks are booked up with the same lineup of practices and commitments, talk to your child about mixing things up. The last thing that you want to happen is your child to decide they no longer like a sport that they have invested so much time and energy in. Show them that you are there for them and want them to love what they are doing. If your child is struggling to keep up with homework with all of the practices, maybe take a day off of practice to catch up on work and ease up some of assignments piling up. Also, make sure to continuously check in with your athlete to make sure they are feeling fine with the time they are spending at sporting events.

Lead by example

As a parent, you have the opportunity to show your child that downtime isn’t going to make or break a situation. Lead by example. Show them that taking an extra 15 minutes for a proper breakfast won’t effect the arrival time at practice. In fact, not scarfing down a grab-and-go breakfast but enjoying a nourishing and balanced meal will actually better influence their performance. Show them that after practices and games it’s more than okay to use the time to decompress and not think about the game. Try to not immediately press your child about the game, but rather let your child speak about it on their own terms. It’s healthy and usually more productive to let what just happened digest for a bit before immediately reacting. Show your child that that’s okay and focus on re-fueling, resting, and supporting them after any sporting event.

We hope these suggestions promote more downtime and allow you and your child to foster memorable experiences beyond the playing field.

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