High School : : Blog
Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Burn Out -- True or False

Jerry Ford        

I’m fully aware of the fact that I am not anywhere near the level of many of the true professional writers who participate here. So please keep this in mind and cut me some slack. A lot of slack!

One of my favorite hobbies is being involved on a site that we don’t even own. The High School Baseball Web has the best message board in all of amateur baseball. The main reason that it is the best is because of the more than 13,000 people who are members. Among the membership is everything from college, high school and travel coaches, MLB scouts, parents of players at nearly every level including the Big Leagues. Lots of experience and lots of people with a desire to help others who have yet to experience the complexities of recruiting, scouting or even playing at a higher level. I actually post there quite a bit. Some think it is solely to promote Perfect Game, but the truth is Perfect Game has very little to do with my involvement there. Like other message boards there are problems that arise and people who do try to take advantage of the site, but over all it’s the best I have found when it comes to helping people find answers to baseball questions. I would highly recommend going to the site and finding out for yourself what it’s all about. I think you are likely to become hooked. Go to http://www.hsbaseballweb.com/ and click on message board.

Many subjects are brought up that create a lot of debate. Recently a topic was started and titled… Burn out - Injuires - Stress?!? It started with this posting from a concerned father/coach.

I had a local 3A senior hit with me twice a week, the entire summer/fall 2007, prior to his senior season in 2008. He has a plus body at 6'02 220lbs, runs like a deer and hits it from the leftside. He was a very healthy kid that eats and sleeps baseball. He was a three sport letter winner since 9th grade. He made it to the 3A State final his freshman year, went 4 rounds deep in the playoffs every other year. He never showed any signs of over work or burnout that entire 9 mos. he was with me.

He started his SR season with a ridiculous .700(+) BA, with several HRs and multiple 2B/3B's. He hit a ton all year, finished with a .573 BA and earned several post season honors, made first team all-state and played on the GWTBCA all-star team. Sounds like a dream come true for a BB kid??

He signed to play for a solid D1 JUCO and was a starter all fall in LF. He was playing everyday and was having a good amount of success.

I saw him on October 16th, 2008 at a showcase at Dan Law Field co-hosted by Tx Tech and Ryan Brewer's group from the Albuquerque Baseball Academy. He looked like a totally different kid. He was 25 lbs lighter, pale, and would not even make eye-contact when we spoke.

He quit and left school the first week of November. I spoke with his folks over the Christmas break, he was not sick or injured, not having grade or school problems. He was just sick of baseball. He's totally walked away from the game.

I recognize the difficulty in transition from HS to college and the stress and pressure that can bring. I also recognize that some kids just won't/dont' succeed at the next level, but this kid never showed a hint of this.

I say all that to say this... How do you help your son deal with the physical and emotional stress of playing 35-50 HS games followed by a full summer/fall program with 100(+) more games?

GED10 played in 35 Varsity HS/Playoff games and 120(+) summer/fall games in 2008. It seems the law of averages is going to catch him sooner or later. And a majority of those games were behind the plate, some DH and some 1B. He says he loves it, wants to play everyday, asks to stay long at practice and then volunteers to hit fungo and throw at the JV.

I hate to tell him "no", but it does concern me.

Any thoughts? GED10Dad

Well after many posts regarding this subject with varying opinions, I decided to chime in with this post…

I do not believe in burnout!

If there was such a thing as burn out, there would be no major league veterans. In most cases, burn out is what happens when you have reached the point of no longer being successful. JMHO

That post was followed by some thoughts contrary to what I had written…

I forget her name but there were many, many articles in the Fall about the #1 woman's recruit in college basketball and the issues related to her deciding to give up her scholarship to Connecticut, quit basketball and play volleyball.
She is the most recent illustration.
This happens!

And this one was also hard to argue against…

Would have to disagree PG, I think Barry Sanders is the perfect example.

And then this one…

And what about that college pitcher last year that left college as a freshman to join the Army. He was still successful, just not enjoying the game any longer.

There's plenty of accomplished people in this world that once thought they had it made and are now unhappy with their situation, although the situation hasn't changed a bit, just the person.

And then this…

I believe some players burnout. I also believe a majority of the players claiming to have burned out have hit the talent wall or don't want to do the work and can't admit it.

Well being fairly stubborn and having always been a believer that there is no such thing as burn out, I started to cave in with these examples, so I replied…

I could be wrong (OH NO ). I suppose there are some who really do burn out. You people have given some good examples.

However, I wouldn’t call someone preferring one thing over another as being burn out. If I like baseball more than football, did I burn out on football? Maybe the example based on success alone wasn’t entirely accurate.

Then I thought I’d do a little research and posted this…


Would this be described as burn out? Just asking!

BTW, Huge Barry Sanders fan here! He should have held all the records!


Several years after retirement, and repeated refusals to discuss the abruptness of it, Sanders finally admitted that the culture of losing in the Lions' organization was too much to deal with even though he said that he could still play. He explained that it robbed him of his competitive spirit, and he saw no reason to believe things were going to improve. He also stated that there were tears in his eyes as the Lions lost the final game of his career the season before he left, because he knew in his heart he was never going to play another NFL game - "I sobbed for 3 months."

Then came these very good responses…

Of course everyone isn't expected to have the same definition...but mine would say yes to your question, Sanders was burned out. I.e. "He explained that it robbed him of his competitive spirit" JMHO

And this one

PG, I would argue that when you have "lost the competitive spirit" you have hit some sort of burnout stage. It could be burned out from losing which it sounds like to me, but that is something that could have been changed. I'm not sure if we know the whole story, but I would be willing to bet that football burnout had a lot to do with it. JMO

And this one

Good point pg, but but Sanders saying the Lions "robbed him of his competitive spirit" is not something you hear that from a superstar in any sport. I think you would agree that there are many pro teams that fit the tag of loser, and in this world of "contract bargaining" very seldom do you hear of a superstar hanging it up completely and blaming the organization.

IMHO, Sanders was the best RB of all time and a personal favorite, but something was funky there.

Being a Packer fan, everytime the name Barry Sanmders comes up, the other end of the spectrum come to mind, Tony Mandarich. The Packers took that under achieving roid-head from Michigan State over Sanders in the 1989 nfl rookie draft.

Well I guess the Barry Sanders story actually DID sound like burn out, but I replied…

I must admit... regarding Barry Sanders... it does sound like burn out. I just can't understand the sobbing for three months about something that you're burnt out on. Is that what people do when they are burnt out on something?

Started thinking

As this subject started to run it’s course, I wondered if I had learned anything from this discussion. Something that might lead me to believe there really is such a thing as burn out. So as I sit here today, here is my opinion…

People change their minds about things all the time. People change what they do all the time. People get bored, find other things that are more important, reach their limit and move on, become satisfied and quit working at things, there are a million reasons why people quit or change what they do or what they want.

I guess some would say that all of the things mentioned above involve “burn out” to some degree. However, in baseball, I truly see burn out as being nothing more than an excuse… a reason for giving it up!

Why do people quit at any level of baseball? While others play until someone else determines when they are done.

Boredom – I can’t buy this reason, I have never met the player who has made it to the top claim that playing Major League Baseball was boring or lacked excitement.

Found other things more important – I can buy this reason. People change their minds about what is most important to them.

Economics – I can buy it, many simply can’t make enough money to continue doing what they love.

Health – I can buy it, being limited due to physical reasons will stop many from continuing.

Reached their limit – BINGO, the truth is the next level is no longer a possibility and the present level is not satisfactory. Time to move on or work much harder. Don’t have the desire or confidence to continue under these circumstances so move on to something else. Some might describe this as “burn out” but in this case, “burn out” is nothing more than an excuse for failing. Truth is “Failing” is something we all do and there is nothing wrong with failing. So when ever I hear the word “burn out” used, I can’t help but think that that person either made a decision based on his or her love for one thing over another or they have failed to progress and the future no longer shines bright in their mind and they are not willing to do what it takes to continue. Now, defining failure, that is the tough one. What some might view as success, someone else might view as failure.

So whenever I hear the word “burn out” I’m left wondering… What does that mean? Was it too many games, too much competition, too difficult, uninteresting, etc. Who in baseball does it affect? Rick Ankiel, Alex Rodriguez, Cal Ripken, the guys making minimal salaries in the minor leagues, scouts, coaches, fans, etc. I really think burn out is simply an excuse to do something else… No more, no less. Lack of success being the number one reason for using the term burn out!

Which is it? Did you quit because of burn out? Did you quit due to lack of success and the willingness or ability to do what it was going to take!

How about this, people usually do what they decide they want to do based on many factors or sometimes what they are forced to do based on many factors. If someone wants to call it burn out, OK, but there’s always much more to it than that.

Anyway, I am now totally burnt out on the subject of burn out!

Just my opinion… I have been proven wrong many many times!

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