Perfectionism Leads To Athlete Burnout, Researchers Claim


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Mental Health News

Researchers at the University of Essex explored the psychological mechanisms behind athlete burnout. The study is published in the Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology.

The Study

The researchers examined 256 adult athletes, men, and women. They were at least 21 years of age and had been competing for more than eight years, spanning university to international levels. They competed in a variety of sports (such as athletics, golf, weightlifting, football, netball, hockey, etc.) and were asked to fill questionnaires about their perfectionism, perceived stress, obsession with failure, and burnout.

The Findings

The results showed that participants who are always obsessing over mistakes or those with higher measures of self-criticality and perfectionism suffer from more stress and burnout. In facing greater psychological difficulty, they mentally disengage themselves from their sporting activities and their performance suffers.

Addressing Burnout

Along with other experts in sports psychology, the researchers recommend techniques to reduce perfectionism-induced stress and burnout. These include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), stress management and mindfulness strategies, and developing a more empathetic and realistic mindset about one’s personal expectations and goals.

One of the lead researchers, Mr. Olsson, elaborated that “athletes may be better served by being less self-critical which should allow them to celebrate successes in performance and embrace failures as an opportunity to reflect and improve rather than beat themselves up.”

To Know More Please Refer To

Olsson, Luke & Grugan, Michael & Martin, Joesph & Madigan, Daniel. (2021). Perfectionism and Burnout in Athletes: The Mediating Role of Perceived Stress. Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology. 10.1123/jcsp.2021-0030.

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