A qualitative analysis of burnout in elite Swedish athletes

Article


Gustafsson, Henrik, Hassmen, Peter, Kentta, Goran and Johansson, Mattias. 2008. "A qualitative analysis of burnout in elite Swedish athletes ." Psychology of Sport and Exercise. 9 (6), pp. 800-816. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychsport.2007.11.004
Article Title

A qualitative analysis of burnout in elite Swedish athletes

ERA Journal ID6618
Article CategoryArticle
AuthorsGustafsson, Henrik (Author), Hassmen, Peter (Author), Kentta, Goran (Author) and Johansson, Mattias (Author)
Journal TitlePsychology of Sport and Exercise
Journal Citation9 (6), pp. 800-816
Number of Pages16
Year2008
PublisherElsevier
Place of PublicationAmsterdam, Netherlands
ISSN1469-0292
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychsport.2007.11.004
Web Address (URL)http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1469029207001124
Abstract

Objective
To extend the understanding of burnout in elite athletes, including personal experiences and perceived antecedents.

Design and Methods
Semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted with 10 Swedish 22- to 26-year-old elite athletes who had quit sport due to burnout. The interview transcripts were inductively analyzed using qualitative content analysis.

Results
The findings support the notion of athlete burnout as a multidimensional syndrome. While stressors like multiple demands, 'too much sport', lack of recovery and high expectations were considered primary causes of burnout by the respondents, high motivation, unidimensional athletic identity, self-esteem strivings, high ego goals, negative perfectionist traits and feelings of entrapment were also found to be critical contributors. These restraining factors explained why the athletes continued their participation in sport despite a progressive worsening of their condition, and are therefore potentially crucial in the development of burnout.

Conclusion
Athlete burnout appears to be a complex interaction of multiple stressors, inadequate recovery and frustration from unfulfilled expectations, which is explained partly by maladaptive perfectionist traits and goals. This process is fuelled by a strong drive to validate self-worth, sometimes in conjunction with feelings of entrapment.

Keywordsathlete identity; motivation; overtraining; recovery; self-esteem
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020520107. Sport and exercise psychology
529999. Other psychology not elsewhere classified
320225. Sports medicine
Public Notes

File reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher/author.

Byline AffiliationsOrebro University, Sweden
Department of Psychology
Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, Sweden
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
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