Faculty of Biological Sciences

Research Bulletin

Young footballers show signs of burnout

29th January 2013

Elite youth footballers are at risk of burnout before they leave school because of the perfectionist standards some feel coaches, parents and team members demand of them.

Young footballers show signs of burnoutDr Andrew Hill, lecturer in sports and exercise science in the University of Leeds' School of Biomedical Sciences, said some youngsters in professional football academies are showing signs of chronic stress, exhaustion, and disillusion with their sport at a young age.

Researchers studied the relationship between different types of perfectionism and burnout among 167 junior male footballers in eight academies and centres of excellence attached to English professional clubs.

They found that up to a quarter of the boys reported sometimes experiencing symptoms of burnout, while about one percent experienced certain symptoms frequently.

Players who reported perceived pressures from others, a fear of making mistakes, and other external pressures were at the most risk from burnout. Non-perfectionists and players who displayed perfectionism driven by their own high standards were significantly less vulnerable.

"What we see among the athletes showing symptoms of burnout is emotional and physical exhaustion, a sense that they are not achieving and a sense of devaluation of the sport. Even though they might originally enjoy their sport and be emotionally invested in it, they eventually become disaffected. Participation can be very stressful," Dr Hill said.

Many professional football clubs' youth structures recruit children as young as eight years old and cut unwanted players annually until they reach 12. Youngsters then sign two-year registrations and must survive "culls" at the age of 14 and 16 before getting a three-year contract.

"It can be harsh. At its worst, we are talking about an environment that can develop, foster and maintain a mindset where athletes are wholly invested into the idea of being the next David Beckham. In fact, of the estimated 10,000 athletes involved in youth football at any one time, less than one per cent is thought to make it as a professional footballer.

"Perfectionism can be a potent energising force but can also carry significant costs for athletes when things don't go well. Reports of psychological difficulties and interpersonal problems, for example, are not uncommon among athletes who describe themselves as perfectionists. Victoria Pendleton, Ronnie O'Sullivan, and Jonnie Wilkinson are all high-profile examples," he added.

"We need sport to be a positive experience for all participants," Dr Hill said. "Sport can be used as a vehicle to develop life skills, a sense of self-esteem and quality relationships with others, but we know it can lead to disaffection, poor moral decision making and make people feel miserable about themselves. There is nothing necessarily positive about sport. It is about the environment that is created."

He added: "Perfectionists are stuck in a self-defeating cycle. They are overly dependent on personal accomplishment as a means of establishing a sense of self-esteem but are always dissatisfied with their efforts. Even success can be problematic because they simply become more demanding until they inevitably experience failure."

The full paper: Andrew P. Hill, 'Perfectionism and Burnout in Junior Soccer Players: A Test of the 2 x 2 Model of Dispositional Perfectionism,' Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology is available on request. It is available online at http://journals.humankinetics.com/jsep-contents.


Recent Grants

Neil Ranson, Mark Harris, Ade Whitehouse, Peter Stockley, Sheena Radford, Alan Berry, Wellcome Trust (Mar 2016), £1,000,000

Alan Berry, Wellcome Trust (Oct 2015), £752,365

Steve Sait, NERC (Oct 2015), £386,061

Urwin, Howard Atkinson, BBSRC (Oct 2015), £200,293

Eric Hewitt, Andrew Macdonald, Yorkshire Kidney Research Fund (Oct 2015), £46,621

Ade Whitehouse, Alison Ashcroft, Ian Carr, BBSRC (Sep 2015), £438,975

Dave Westhead, Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research (Sep 2015), £430,567

Shaunna Burke, Andrea Utley, Sarah Astill, Arts Council of England (Sep 2015), £80,594

Samit Chakrabarty, Ronaldo Ichiyama, Intl Foundn for Research in Paraplegia (Aug 2015), £93,000

Anastasia Zhuravleva, BBSRC (Jul 2015), £483,019

Alex O'Neill, MRC (Jul 2015), £249,822

Ade Whitehouse, Richard Foster, Cancer Research UK (Jul 2015), £201,034

Ronaldo Ichiyama, Jim Deuchars, Sue Deuchars, Wings For Life Spinal Cord Research (Jul 2015), £123,895

Martin Stacey and colleagues in FMH, MRC (Jun 2015), £426,475

Adrian Goldman, Sarah Harris, Roman Tuma, BBSRC (Jun 2015), £420,693

Elwyn Isaac, EU (Jun 2015), £238,915

Christine Foyer, BBSRC (Jun 2015), £160,401

Adrian Goldman, EU (Jun 2015), £116,331

David Brockwell, Sheena Radford, Innovate UK (Jun 2015), £113,378

Yoselin Benitez-Alfonso, EPSRC (Jun 2015), £93,672

Michelle Peckham, Peter Knight, Thomas Edwards, BBSRC (May 2015), £404,987

Michelle Peckham, Ed White, Peter Knight, BHF (May 2015), £208,184

Dave Westhead, Sheena Radford, Alex Breeze, BBSRC (May 2015), £51,021

Steve Clapcote, Vitaflo International Ltd (May 2015), £33,703

Les Firbank, Joe Holden, Pippa Chapman, NERC (Apr 2015), £388,726

Samit Chakrabarty, David Steenson, BBSRC (Apr 2015), £120,103

Paul Millner, Gin Jose, Sarah Aickin, DSTL Porton Down (Apr 2015), £63,407

Chris Hassell, David Lewis, The Physiological Society (Apr 2015), £6,900

Andrew Tuplin, Royal Society (Mar 2015), £15,000

Yoselin Benitez-Alfonso, Royal Society (Mar 2015), £14,770

Patricija Van Oosten-Hawle, Royal Society (Mar 2015), £13,960

Stuart Egginton, BHF (Mar 2015), £272,979

Keith Hamer, Department of Energy & Climate Change (Mar 2015), £58,066

Andrew Macdonald, Yorkshire Kidney Research Fund (Mar 2015), £41,171

Les Firbank, DEFRA Dept for Env. Food & Rural Affairs (Feb 2015), £20,000

Ian Hope, Marie-Anne Shaw, BBSRC (Jan 2015), £381,998

Paul Knox, BBSRC (Jan 2015), £5,000

Andrew Peel, BBSRC (Jan 2015), £359,077

Christine Foyer, BBSRC (Jan 2015), £408,334

Dave Westhead and colleagues in Experimental Haematology, Cancer Research UK (Jan 2015), £700,521

Mike McPherson, Christoph Walti, DSTL Porton Down (Jan 2015), £625,125

Sheena Radford, Mark Harris, Peter Stockley, Alan Berry, Alex O'Neill, Thomas Edwards, Adrian Goldman, Anastasia Zhuravleva, Wellcome Trust (Jan 2015), £443,015

Alison Ashcroft, Peter Stockley, Sheena Radford, Nicola Stonehouse, David Brockwell, Darren Tomlinson, BBSRC (Jan 2015), £340,937

Bill Kunin, EU (Jan 2015), £157,490

John Colyer, Leeds Teaching Hospitals Charitable Fund (Jan 2015), £40,000

Chris Hassall, Royal Society (Dec 2014), £14,500

Ryan Seipke, Royal Society (Nov 2014), £13,700

Neil Ranson, BBSRC (Nov 2014), £355,253

Alan Berry, Wellcome Trust (Oct 2014), £749,865

Les Firbank, Joe Holden, BBSRC (Oct 2014), £210,302

Darren Tomlinson and colleagues in Chemistry and Pathology, anatomy and Tumour Biology, Dr Hadwen Trusy (Oct 2014), £194,475

Paul Knox, EU (Oct 2014), £167,229

Martin Stacey and colleagues in Medicine & Health, Pfizer (Oct 2014), £90,453

Darren Tomlinson and colleagues in Experimental Oncology, YCR (Oct 2014), £69,480

Andrew Macdonald, Jamel Mankouri, Kidney Research Fund UK (Oct 2014), £58,878

Mike McPherson and colleagues in Dentistry and Engineering, Wellcome Trust (Oct 2014), £58,437

Dave Westhead and colleagues in Experimental Haemotology, Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research (Sep 2014), £281,424

Emmanuel Paci and colleagues in Chemistry, BBSRC (Sep 2014), £636,759

Andrew Peel, BBSRC (Sep 2014), £371,598

Lars Jeuken, Stephen Evans, BBSRC (Sep 2014), £333,684

Michelle Peckham, Mark Harris, Rao Sivaprasadarao, Eileen Ingham, Nic Stonehouse, Nikita Gamper, Wellcome Trust (Sep 2014), £192,763

Recent
News

Bats wake up and smell the coffee

20th August 2015

Intensive agriculture is taking a toll on bats in the Western Ghats of India, one of the world’s most biodiverse regions, but shade-grown coffee, remnant rainforest patches and riverine vegetation strips may help struggling species hang on.


Food production shocks 'will happen more often because of extreme weather'

14th August 2015

Professor Tim Benton (biology), from University of Leeds has conducted research that suggests climate change and a rising demand in food from a high population could cause a frightening situation. 


“Brainy” mice raise hope of better treatments for cognitive disorders

14th August 2015

Researchers have created unusually intelligent mice by altering a single gene and as a result the mice were also less likely to feel anxiety or recall fear. 


Study finds non-genetic cancer mechanism

27th July 2015

Cancer can be caused solely by protein imbalances within cells, a study of ovarian cancer has found.


Physiological Society Oral Communication Prize Winners

17th July 2015

Ewan Fowler and Sabine Lotteau from the Cardiovascular, Sport and Exercise Sciences group (School of Biomedical Sciences) have been awarded the Physiological Society’s Oral Communication Prizes


Age doesn’t dull damselflies' love lives

16th July 2015

Aging damselflies never lose their libidos and are just as likely as younger competitors to mate.


The University of Leeds is investing in 250 new academic fellowships.

1st July 2015

Are you one of the 250 Great Minds we are looking for?


Leeds academics recognised for teaching excellence

11th June 2015

Two University of Leeds academics have received a prestigious teaching award, a National Teaching Fellowship.


The Quest to Engineer the Perfect Potato

8th June 2015

Researchers in the U.K. aim for a new commercial potato that resists many of the worst vulnerabilities of potato crops around the world.


University of Leeds announces £17m Astbury BioStructure Laboratory

3rd June 2015

The new facility will provide the University's internationally renowned Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology with instruments for Electron Microscopy and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance that are competitive with the very best in the world.


Impact
Stories

The Yorkshire Dales Environment Network is a partnership involved in the daily life and long term protection of the Yorkshire Dales.

Professors Urwin and Atkinson have developed three novel technologies for nematode control.

Professor Ian Chopra and Dr Alex O'Neill have shown that high levels of FA prevent the development of resistant bacteria.

The Ponnambalam laboratory undertakes research relating to cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

All impact stories