Symptoms, causes and what to do about it
  | By Dr. Tom Ferraro

Burnout is one of the big issues in tennis, and it’s especially common at the highest levels of play where competition is so great and practice is intense. Let’s discuss the symptoms of burnout, its causes and what to do to prevent it.

What are the symptoms of burnout?
The three most common signs of burnout are exhaustion, illness and injury. Exhaustion is a feeling of constant fatigue that comes when you work out too much and rest too little. This is when your performance will begin to fall. If you do not rest at this point, then illness comes next. Your immune system gets depleted and you become very vulnerable to a host of illnesses, including colds, sore throats, coughs, digestive problems, chest pain, depression and allergies. And if even this is ignored, you enter the final danger zone of burnout and are very susceptible to injury. All of those knee, ankle, elbow and shoulder injuries are often due to fatigue and overuse.

Who is prone to burnout?
We are all prone to burnout since we live in a culture that tells us we must be number one or we are nothing. This creates perfectionism, which means the athlete is never satisfied and keeps pushing beyond their limits. Tiger Woods may be the best example of an athlete who was never satisfied and it led to serious knee injuries which may shorten his career. The young athlete who tastes success sometimes begins to overwork in an effort to gain more success.

What can you do about burnout?
As an athlete, you must realize that your body is of prime importance and needs rest. If you are exhausted, always sick or injury prone, your body is telling you to slow down. You must learn to give it what it asks for. You need to be sleeping at least eight hours per night, eat well and pace yourself. It is important to add some balance in your life. If you are not having fun at your sport, you may be working too hard. It’s time to slow down and relax before your body forces you to.

Dr. Tom Ferraro

For consultations, treatment or on-site visits, contact Dr. Tom Ferraro Ph.D., Sport Psychologist, by phone at (516) 248-7189, e-mail or visit