When I was 14 years old, I burned out from tennis. I dreaded driving to tennis practice, and I absolutely detested playing tennis tournaments. I finally decided to pull the plug on tennis. I walked away and took up team sports. I did not play a competitive tennis match for the next five years. I was fortunate enough to be able to pick it up again in college and find a way to enjoy the sport on a team and on my own terms. I do not regret my decision to retire from tennis. After taking a step back from competition, I realized that it was not for me and that pure hitting was my tennis domain. I learned how to incorporate tennis into my life in the way that I liked, and I even found a new way to enjoy competitive tennis in the form of doubles.
There are many reasons why a child may feel the symptoms of being burned out, and they do not all necessarily result in retirement like mine did. Many times, the symptoms are temporary. Your child may be feeling physically nd mentally exhausted, or they may be started to feel overwhelmed with all of the potential routes that their tennis talent can take them. Here are just a few ways to pinpoint the origin of your child’s feelings and help them potentially avoid burning out.
1. Supplement Tennis Practice with Other Activities
This is especially important if your child is 14 years old or younger. These other activities will act as an escape, and can be in the form of other sports, musical activities, art classes, etc. Your child does not exactly need to take this activity as seriously as their tennis. It is meant to be a break from tennis and thinking about tennis for a few hours a week. This also allows children to know that they can do more than just hit a tennis ball. Many teenage tennis players will get burned out, but feel like they cannot step away from tennis even for a little bit of time because it is the only thing that they have invested their time and energy in.
2. Remember Quality Over Quantity
There is such a thing as too much time on the tennis court. Children will feel physically, mentally, and emotionally drained when they spend too hours on the court every day. Their bodies will be drained of energy, and they will begin to dread going to practice. There are ways to combat this. Try shortening tennis practice, but make it as high intensity and productive as possible while out there. Make sure that each practice is different and interesting, and incorporate fun non-tennis fitness activities into training.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Take a Break
Does tennis not evoke the same excitement that it used to? Take a break from it then. Take a few days, a week, or even a few weeks off. Let children take as much time off as they need until they begin to miss the sport and enjoy being on the court again. As soon as your child starts feeling burned out, let them take a step back. It will help them evaluate how they feel about the sport, what they want out of it, and how next to proceed to avoid burning out.
4. Play High School Tennis
I can’t stress how much I believe in this. I have even written an entire blog post about this that you can find here. High school tennis gives kids an opportunity to play tennis on a team. In many instances, high school tennis is not nearly as competitive as USTA junior tennis, but your child will learn invaluable lessons and enjoy tennis in a team environment.
5. Remind your Child to Enjoy the Journey
Whenever I was feeling pressure, my mom used to always say to me, “Enjoy the journey.” As a kid, this was a hard concept for me to grasp, especially when everyone else around me was telling me about all of the things that I could do with my tennis talent. I kept thinking about what I should be doing to achieve this goal or that goal, whether it be college tennis or looking into the pro circuit. Hindsight is 20/20, but as I now look back on my finished college athletic career, I realize how true and important these words are. Don’t get me wrong, goals are important and keep us motivated, but they aren’t the end all be all. At the end of the day, it does not matter where you end up playing tennis, whether it be on a college club team or in Arthur Ashe Stadium. Talk to your child and make sure that the two of you are on the same page about what is important when it comes to playing tennis. Remember that it’s all in the journey.