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  • 1.
    Gustafsson, Henrik
    Örebro University, School of Health and Medical Sciences.
    Burnout in competitive and elite athletes2007Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Intensified training regimes and increasing competitive pressure make some athletes leave sports with shattered hopes and dreams. A number of these athletes drop out of sports due to burnout, which is characterized by an enduring experience of emotional and physical exhaustion, reduced sense of accomplishment and devaluation of sport participation as a consequence of prolonged chronic stress. Loss of engagement and diminished motivation also characterize burnout. But burnout is more than just a simple stress reaction, as not all athletes who experience stress burn out. Study I investigates the prevalence of burnout among competitive athletes. The number of athletes showing high levels of burnout was found to be between 1 and 9%. The number of athletes suffering from severe burnout was estimated at 1-2%. Contrary to what has been speculated, burnout was not more common in individual sports than in team sports. Study II investigated the burnout process using a case-study approach. It was found that burnout can evolve with different levels of severity, time perspectives and characteristics. There appears to be a relationship between overtraining syndrome and burnout, and the study gave support to the notion that burnout is the most severe outcome on the training fatigue continuum. Early success might lead to high expectations and an inner pressure to train, which in the three cases made the athletes ignore signs of maladaptation. Performance-based self-esteem appears to be a “driving force” in the burnout process. In Study III the burnout experience was investigated using qualitative interviews. Lack of recovery, “too much sports” and high external demands were described as causes of burnout. A stressful situation with multiple demands from sport, school and social relationships leads to a total overload, which has both physiological and psychological consequences. Critical factors were a unidimensional identity, performance-based self-esteem, an inflexible organization and feelings of entrapment. These restraining factors made the athletes remain in sports despite negative outcomes. Thus the three studies indicate that burnout is a serious problem in competitive and elite sports, that restraining factors offer an explanation for why athletes remain in sport despite negative outcomes, and that striving for self-esteem is crucial in the development of burnout.

    List of papers
    1. Prevalence of burnout in competitive adolescent athletes
    Open this publication in new window or tab >>Prevalence of burnout in competitive adolescent athletes
    2007 (English)In: The Sport psychologist, ISSN 0888-4781, E-ISSN 1543-2793, Vol. 21, no 1, p. 21-37Article in journal (Refereed) Published
    Abstract [en]

    This study examined the factorial validity of the Eades Burnout Inventory (EABI) and the prevalence of burnout in adolescent elite athletes and whether burnout is more common in individual sports than in team sports. The EABI was distributed to 980 athletes (402 females and 578 males) in 29 different sports. Confirmatory-factor analyses revealed an acceptable factorial validity for a theoretically supported four-factor model of the EABI. Between 1% and 9% of the athletes displayed elevated burnout scores on these four subscales. The hypothesis of higher prevalence of burnout in individual sports was, however, not supported. Furthermore, no correlation between training load and burnout scores was found. These findings suggest that factors other than training load must be considered when athletes at risk for burnout are investigated.

    National Category
    Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Sport and Fitness Sciences
    Research subject
    Sports Science
    Identifiers
    urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-2868 (URN)
    Available from: 2007-12-28 Created: 2007-12-28 Last updated: 2018-01-13Bibliographically approved
    2. The process of burnout: A multiple case study of three elite endurance athletes
    Open this publication in new window or tab >>The process of burnout: A multiple case study of three elite endurance athletes
    Show others...
    2007 (English)In: International Journal of Sport Psychology, ISSN 0047-0767, Vol. 38, no 4, p. 388-416Article in journal (Refereed) Published
    Abstract [en]

    The aim of this study was to gain a better understanding of the process of burning out in endurance athletes. The experiences of three elite cross-country skiers who left Their sport due to burnout were explored. Semi-structured interviews were conducted and inductively analyzed. The Athlete Burnout Questionnaire and training logs were used to validate the interviews and to enrich the analysis. The burnout process was found to evolve with different severity and time perspectives in the three cases. Athletic identity and achievement strivings to validate self-esteem were found to be important driving forces in the burnout process. Also, chronic lack of mental and physical recovery as well as early skiing success leading to high expectations comprised common themes in the burnout process.

    National Category
    Sport and Fitness Sciences
    Research subject
    Sports Science
    Identifiers
    urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-2869 (URN)
    Available from: 2007-12-28 Created: 2007-12-28 Last updated: 2017-12-14Bibliographically approved
    3. A qualitative analysis of burnout in elite Swedish athletes
    Open this publication in new window or tab >>A qualitative analysis of burnout in elite Swedish athletes
    2008 (English)In: Psychology of Sport And Exercise, ISSN 1469-0292, E-ISSN 1878-5476, Psychology of Sport & Exercise, Vol. 9, no 6, p. 800-816Article in journal (Refereed) Published
    Abstract [en]

    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 it 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.

    National Category
    Sport and Fitness Sciences
    Research subject
    Sports Science
    Identifiers
    urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-2870 (URN)10.1016/j.psychsport.2007.11.004 (DOI)
    Available from: 2007-12-28 Created: 2007-12-28 Last updated: 2017-12-14Bibliographically approved
  • 2.
    Gustafsson, Henrik
    et al.
    Örebro University, School of Health and Medical Sciences. Swedish Winter Sports Res Ctr, Mid Sweden Univ, Östersund, Sweden.
    Hassmen, Peter
    Dept Psychol, Umeå Univ, Umeå, Sweden.
    Podlog, Leslie
    Texas Tech Univ, Lubbock TX, USA.
    Exploring the relationship between hope and burnout in competitive sport2010In: Journal of Sports Sciences, ISSN 0264-0414, E-ISSN 1466-447X, Vol. 28, no 14, p. 1495-1504Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Researchers have postulated that hope may be an important factor associated with burnout. Consistent with hope theory contentions, low-hope individuals may be susceptible to burnout because they are prone to experience goal blockage, frustration, and negative affect, all of which likely increase the risk of burnout. We examined the relationship between hope and athlete burnout among 178 competitive athletes (63 females and 115 males) aged 15-20 years. Hope was significantly and negatively correlated with all three burnout subscales: emotional/physical exhaustion, a reduced sense of accomplishment, and sport devaluation. Moreover, results of a multivariate analysis of variance showed that low-hope athletes scored significantly higher than medium- and high-hope athletes on all three burnout dimensions. Finally, results revealed that agency thinking was a significant predictor of all burnout dimensions. Frustration over unmet goals and a perceived lack of agency, a characteristic of low-hope athletes, might pose a risk factor in athlete burnout, whereas being able to maintain hope appears to be associated with health and well-being.

  • 3.
    Gustafsson, Henrik
    et al.
    Örebro University, School of Health and Medical Sciences.
    Hassmén, Peter
    Kenttä, Göran
    Johansson, Mathias
    A qualitative analysis of burnout in elite Swedish athletes2008In: Psychology of Sport And Exercise, ISSN 1469-0292, E-ISSN 1878-5476, Psychology of Sport & Exercise, Vol. 9, no 6, p. 800-816Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    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 it 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.

  • 4.
    Gustafsson, Henrik
    et al.
    Örebro University, School of Health and Medical Sciences.
    Holmberg, Hans-Christer
    Hassmen, Peter
    An elite endurance athlete's recovery from underperformance aided by a multidisciplinary sport science support team2008In: European Journal of Sport Science, ISSN 1746-1391, E-ISSN 1536-7290, Vol. 8, no 5, p. 267-276Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Overload training resulting in an overreached state is common in elite sports, and if undetected can develop into an overtraining syndrome. This risk is accentuated by the lack of reliable measures of overreaching. Coaches and scientists therefore have to use a combination of tests in the monitoring process. This article presents a case study of the recovery from underperformance of a young elite endurance athlete and the work of a multidisciplinary sport science support team. When it was determined that the athlete's performance had deteriorated, and that this was due solely to the stress of training, training load was radically reduced for a period of 14 days. A combination of physiological, biochemical, and psychological measurements were then used to monitor the recovery process. The purpose of this article is to describe how coaches and sport science teams can help in monitoring training and recovery in practical settings, allowing detection of the early signs of overreaching before a more serious overtraining syndrome develops.

  • 5.
    Gustafsson, Henrik
    et al.
    Örebro University, School of Health and Medical Sciences.
    Kenttä, Göran
    Hassmén, Peter
    Lundqvist, Carolina
    Prevalence of burnout in competitive adolescent athletes2007In: The Sport psychologist, ISSN 0888-4781, E-ISSN 1543-2793, Vol. 21, no 1, p. 21-37Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This study examined the factorial validity of the Eades Burnout Inventory (EABI) and the prevalence of burnout in adolescent elite athletes and whether burnout is more common in individual sports than in team sports. The EABI was distributed to 980 athletes (402 females and 578 males) in 29 different sports. Confirmatory-factor analyses revealed an acceptable factorial validity for a theoretically supported four-factor model of the EABI. Between 1% and 9% of the athletes displayed elevated burnout scores on these four subscales. The hypothesis of higher prevalence of burnout in individual sports was, however, not supported. Furthermore, no correlation between training load and burnout scores was found. These findings suggest that factors other than training load must be considered when athletes at risk for burnout are investigated.

  • 6.
    Gustafsson, Henrik
    et al.
    Örebro University, School of Health and Medical Sciences.
    Kenttä, Göran
    Hassmén, Peter
    Lundqvist, Carolina
    Durand-Bush, Nathalie
    The process of burnout: A multiple case study of three elite endurance athletes2007In: International Journal of Sport Psychology, ISSN 0047-0767, Vol. 38, no 4, p. 388-416Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The aim of this study was to gain a better understanding of the process of burning out in endurance athletes. The experiences of three elite cross-country skiers who left Their sport due to burnout were explored. Semi-structured interviews were conducted and inductively analyzed. The Athlete Burnout Questionnaire and training logs were used to validate the interviews and to enrich the analysis. The burnout process was found to evolve with different severity and time perspectives in the three cases. Athletic identity and achievement strivings to validate self-esteem were found to be important driving forces in the burnout process. Also, chronic lack of mental and physical recovery as well as early skiing success leading to high expectations comprised common themes in the burnout process.

  • 7.
    Gustafsson, Henrik
    et al.
    Örebro University, School of Health and Medical Sciences, Örebro University, Sweden. Faculty of Social and Life Sciences, Karlstad University, Karlstad, Sweden.
    Skoog, Therese
    Örebro University, School of Law, Psychology and Social Work.
    The mediational role of perceived stress in the relation between optimism and burnout in competitive athletes2012In: Anxiety, Stress, and Coping, ISSN 1061-5806, E-ISSN 1477-2205, Vol. 25, no 2, p. 183-199Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Burnout has been highlighted as an important issue, not only in occupational settings but also among athletes. Optimists appear to be more resistant to burnout, which might be partly explained by lower levels of stress. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between optimism and burnout symptoms in 217 athletes (139 males and 78 females, aged 16 to 19 years), while also examining stress as a mediator in this relationship. The results showed that optimism had a significant negative relationship with both stress and burnout. Mediation analyses indicated that perceived stress fully mediated the links between optimism and two symptoms of burnout, emotional/physical exhaustion and sport devaluation, and partly mediated the link between optimism and a third symptom, reduced sense of accomplishment. The findings indicate that individual factors, such as optimism, may play an important role in the development of burnout by virtue of their association with stress. Future research should, therefore, investigate the longitudinal effects of optimism on stress and burnout.

  • 8.
    Gustafsson, Henrik
    et al.
    Karlstad university, Karlstad, Sweden.
    Skoog, Therése
    Örebro University, School of Law, Psychology and Social Work.
    Podlog, Leslie
    University of Utah, Salt Lake City UT, USA.
    Lundqvist, Carolina
    The Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences (GIH), Stockholm, Sweden.
    Wagnsson, Stefan
    Karlstad University, Karlstad, Sweden.
    Hope and athlete burnout: Stress and affect as mediators2013In: Psychology of Sport And Exercise, ISSN 1469-0292, E-ISSN 1878-5476, Vol. 14, no 5, p. 640-649Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Objective: In this study we examined the relationship between trait hope and burnout in elite junior soccer players and whether stress and positive and negative affect mediated this relationship.

    Methods: Participants were 238 Swedish soccer players (166 males, 71 females; one did not indicate gender) aged 15-19 years who completed questionnaires measuring trait hope, perceived stress, positive and negative affect, and athlete burnout (i.e., emotional/physical exhaustion, a reduced sense of accomplishment, and sport devaluation).

    Results: Bivariate correlations were consistent with hope theory contentions indicating significant negative relationships between hope and all three burnout dimensions. The relationship between hope and emotional/physical exhaustion was fully mediated by stress and positive affect. For sport devaluation and reduced sense of accomplishment, stress and positive affect partially mediated the relationship with hope. In contrast, negative affect did not mediate the relationship between hope and any of the burnout dimensions.

    Conclusion: The results support earlier findings that hope is negatively related to athlete burnout. Support was also found for the hypothesis that high hope individuals would experience less stress and therefore less burnout. Promoting hope may be relevant in reducing the likelihood of this detrimental syndrome. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  • 9. Hjälm, Sören
    et al.
    Kenttä, Göran
    The Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, Sweden.
    Hassmén, Peter
    Stockholm University, Sweden University of Southern Queensland, Australia.
    Gustafsson, Henrik
    Örebro University, Department of Health Sciences.
    Burnout among elite soccer coaches2007In: Journal of Sport Behavior, ISSN 0162-7341, Vol. 30, no 4, p. 415-427Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Burnout was investigated in a population of men coaching either men or women at the elite club level in Sweden. Out of 53 presently active top-level soccer coaches, 47 volunteered to participate. Results indicate that 71% of the coaches in the Premier league for women, compared to 23% of the coaches in the Premier league for men, experienced moderate to high levels of Emotional Exhaustion as measured by the Maslach Burnout Inventory. One possible explanation for this difference is that only 10% of the coaches responsible for teams in the Premier league for women had full time appointments, as compared to all coaches responsible for teams in the Premier league for men. The latter group also had more support staff, on average six people, whereas those coaching women only had four people available. In addition, leadership demands seem to vary between female and male teams, which together with less support and time-constraints place coaches in the Premier league for women at a relatively higher risk for burnout than coaches in the Premier league for men.

  • 10.
    Lundkvist, Erik
    et al.
    Department of Psychology, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden.
    Gustafsson, Henrik
    Department of Health and Environmental Scienses, Karlstad University, Karlstad, Sweden; Swedish Winter Sports Research Centre, Mid Sweden University, Östersund, Sweden.
    Hjälm, Sören
    Örebro University, School of Health and Medical Sciences, Örebro University, Sweden.
    Hassmén, Peter
    Department of Psychology, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden.
    An interpretative phenomenological analysis of burnout and recovery in elite soccer coaches2012In: Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health, ISSN 2159-676X, E-ISSN 2159-6778, Vol. 4, no 3, p. 400-419Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Knowledge about the personal experience of burnout in elite coaches is sparse. We therefore studied subjective experiences associated with burnout in a group of elite soccer coaches; specifically how they describe perceived causes of burnout, symptoms and the subsequent recovery process. A qualitative approach was used, because our aim was to study the coaches ’ personal experiences of burnout. We conducted semi-structured interviews and used interpretative phenomenological analysis to analyse the data. We interviewed eight Swedish elite soccer coaches who had previously reported high levels of burnout. We found two burnout profiles that matched the coaches’ perceived causes of burnout. The first was associated with problems in handling the performance culture itself and the second had to do with the overall situation, including workload, family and health. Our findings describe coach burnout as stemming from a combination of issues, related to both home and work. When combined with work overload, coaches who have problems handling the performance culture in elite sports, and who lack the tools to enhance recovery, are particularly vulnerable to burnout.

  • 11.
    Skoog, Therése
    et al.
    Örebro University, School of Law, Psychology and Social Work.
    Gustafsson, Henrik
    Karlstads universitet, Karlstad, Sweden.
    "Jag är en idrottare": fritid, idrott och moral2014In: Att förstå ungdomars identitetsskapande: en inspirations- och metodbok / [ed] Emma Sorbring, Åsa Andersson och Martin Molin, Stockholm: Liber, 2014, 1, p. 146-165Chapter in book (Other academic)
  • 12.
    Smith, Alan L.
    et al.
    Dept Hlth & Kinesiol, Purdue Univ, W Lafayette IN, USA.
    Gustafsson, Henrik
    Örebro University, School of Health and Medical Sciences. Swedish Winter Sports Res Ctr, Mid Sweden Univ, Östersund, Sweden.
    Hassmen, Peter
    Dept Psychol, Umeå Univ, Umeå, Sweden.
    Peer motivational climate and burnout perceptions of adolescent athletes2010In: Psychology of Sport And Exercise, ISSN 1469-0292, E-ISSN 1878-5476, Vol. 11, no 6, p. 453-460Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Objective: The role of social environment in fostering athlete burnout is understudied, in particular with regard to the peer social context. We therefore examined the association between perceptions of the peer-created motivational climate and athlete burnout in adolescent athletes while controlling for weekly training hours and perceived stress. We also examined potential gender differences on peer-created motivational climate perceptions. Method: Adolescent athletes (N = 206, M age = 17.2 yr) completed questionnaires assessing weekly training hours and perceptions of stress, task-involving (i.e., improvement, relatedness support, effort) and ego-involving (i.e., intra-team competition and ability, intra-team conflict) peer motivational climate, and burnout (i.e., emotional/physical exhaustion, reduced sense of accomplishment, sport devaluation). Results: Multivariate multiple regression analysis with training hours, stress, and peer motivational climate variables predicting the burnout components showed a significant multivariate relationship with 24.6% of burnout variance explained. Canonical loadings indicated that lower scores on weekly training hours, higher perceived stress and intra-team conflict peer climate perception scores, and lower improvement, relatedness support, and effort peer climate perception scores associate with higher scores on all burnout components. Intra-team competition and ability did not contribute to prediction of burnout. Stronger prediction was observed for individual compared to team sport athletes. Gender differences were in line with expectations. Males scored higher on the two ego-involving peer motivational climate components, whereas females scored higher than males on effort. Conclusion: The findings offer insight on the potential role of social context in shaping burnout perceptions and suggest that attention to peers in the burnout process is warranted. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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