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The Burnout Bite: 6 Ways to Avoid
Sore shoulders. Team drama. Glutes on fire. Late night homework sessions. Dreams of hitting the pillow. The effort is worth it (and we wouldn't trade it for the world), but we'd be remiss if we didn't address the inevitable bite of burnout.
Sports should support your mental and physical health (vs. hurt it), but it takes proactivity as a player to find that healthy rhythm. Here are a few tips to get you started and avoid the bite of burnout:
1. Actually mix up your workout routine.
As a hockey player, you probably spend a lot of time working your glutes and your calves. And while those muscles are key to your performance on the pitch, it’s important to mix up your exercises and give them a rest. Get creative - work in pilates, barre, swimming, etc. - your body will thank you! Yoga (a personal favorite of Olympic Gold Medalist Shona McCallin) is another great alternative that allows you to get a full-body workout, de-stress and clear your head.
2. On your day off, trade in that hockey stick for a lacrosse stick...
…or a basketball, soccer ball, softball, etc. While we don't recommend taking up a serious contact sport during the season, playing a casual game of pick-up is a great way to engage different muscle groups, break out of the field hockey mindset, and refine your core skills. Tossing around the lacrosse ball can help to improve your stick work, while a quick dribble down the soccer field can help to hone your footwork. Plus, it's refreshing and energizing to play for kicks, without the stress or pressure of an organized game!
3. Fuel your body for the way you want it to operate.
Healthy eating has the greatest impact when it’s a long-term habit, not a seasonal practice. We love a team pizza night as much as the next person, but pizza every night? Maybe not the best idea.
As an athlete, there are key nutrients and vitamins that help to strengthen your performance. If you're fueling your body with the right foods on a daily basis, you'll have a good baseline going into the season and be less susceptible to injury. (Try out Katie Bam’s favorite smoothie that helps keep her going during an intense workout!)
4. Freaky Friday and switch positions for a day of practice.
This is one of our favorites! This gets the whole squad out of its comfort zone, and thinking and moving in new ways. Try putting a forward in the box, a goalie on the front line, a defender in the midfield, etc. It will energize your team's perspective and playing strategy, while relaxing the rhythms and routine of a normal practice. (Be sure to check this one with your coach!)
5. GET YOUR SLEEP. Seriously, prioritize that shut-eye - the benefits will be endless.
Sometimes, it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day, what with school, homework, games and practice – but the solution isn’t to pass on sleep! Establishing regular sleeping patterns is one of the most effective ways to protect yourself from burnout. This might mean cutting your gym session a little short or ducking out of the team dinner a little early, but trust us, the right amount of shut-eye goes a long way. Not only will your performance improve, but you’ll enjoy yourself a lot more if you’re well-rested! (We’d recommend a few episodes of Netflix too…#brainbreak.)
6. Maintain your passions outside of the team :-)
Make friends outside of your squad. Have some quality sibling time. Find a cool nonprofit and volunteer your time! It helps to have areas of your life where you can turn off the field hockey brain and recharge. Then, you can hit the pitch with a little perspective (and appreciate the time with your teammates even more!).
At the end of the day, it’s all about love of the game! Here are 15 things you know if you love field hockey like it’s your life.