We all start our careers with passion and enthusiasm but go through periods of self-doubt and insecurity at some point in our professional journey. The demand and expectation on Strength and Conditioning (S&C) coaches can be a bit unnerving, leading at times to burnout. It is important to be aware of it and to understand what triggers this feeling, for a myopic vision can make the situation worse.
Here are some warning signs S&C coaches would do well to take note of.
Professional work is no more exciting: Not enjoying going to the gym or the sporting field could be the first sign of burnout. Forcing oneself to work can be stressful. There may be behavioural changes signalling burnout: we may start cancelling appointments, not be interested in driving to the centre, not be interested in adding to our knowledge, neglecting personal training, delaying determining workout schedules, or becoming unpunctual. In other words, we may not be interested in negotiating the day ahead of us.
Physical and mental exhaustion: Tiredness affects us all, and stretching oneself when tired can by dicey. Irregular sleep and food patterns can add to the trauma, and conversely, mental and physical exhaustion can affect sleep and daily routine. Factors affecting mental health can be many. Mental health professionals would be able to decipher the exact problem and prescribe solutions for it.
Frustration: S&C coaches are generally patient and tolerant to criticism. Their minds are programmed to absorb knowledge. They are known for developing good relationships with the players or clients, and for their PR skills. However, when burnt out, they may be uncharacteristically irritated and frustrated on even trivial matters.
Neglecting oneself: S&C coaches have always led by example by being mentally and physically fit. Appearance makes an impression on people. But when coaches are walking on thin ice and on the edge, they may not invest in themselves. They may tend to take shortcuts or just go through the motions.
Isolation: Isolation is the most dangerous symptom of burnout. We may start isolating ourselves from the ecosystem where we thrived. Many times, we may not have a confidant to lean on, and it adds to the stress. In a professional working environment, we may start avoiding fellow coaches, other members of the support staff, the management, the clients, or even players as we are mentally zoned out.
The inability to concentrate on a given task can be counterproductive. There is more to it than meets the eye. The best way to deal with it is to recognise it and not push it under the carpet till it becomes a serious problem. Taking help from other professionals and analysing the suffering objectively would be of great value.
We all experience the above-mentioned conditions from time to time, but one has to be mindful of them so as not to impede one’s progress to achieve career goals.
Everyone reacts differently to similar stimuli, but it helps to unwind and be objective about the issue rather than to find temporary solutions. Talking to a professional or to people one can trust can help those suffering from burnout come out of this career-threatening malady.