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a0005 Overtraining and Burnout in Sports Michael Kellmann Ruhr-University of Bochum, Bochum, Germany 1. Introduction underperformance


Overtraining and Burnout in Sports

Michael Kellmann

Ruhr-University of Bochum, Bochum, Germany

  • 1. Introduction

underperformance that is reversible within a short-term

  • 2. Recovery

recovery period of 1 or 2 weeks and can be rewarded by an

  • 3. Overtraining

increase in performance ability.

  • 4. Burnout

  • 5. Interrelation of Stress States and Recovery Demands

  • 6. Treatment of Overtraining and Burnout Further Reading


burnout A psychological, physical, and emotional with- drawal from a formerly enjoyable and motivating activity resulting from prolonged or chronic stress. long-term overtraining During long-term overtraining, lasting 3 weeks or more, athletes are on a chronic performance plateau that cannot be influenced positively by short amounts of rest and recovery periods. overtraining This is due to a long-term imbalance between stress and recovery (i.e., too much stress combined with too little regeneration). recovery An inter- and intraindividual multilevel (e.g., psy- chological, physiological, and social) process for the rees- tablishment of performance abilities. Recovery includes an action-oriented component, and self-initiated activities (proactive recovery) can be systematically used to optimize situational conditions to build up and to restore personal resources and buffers. short-term overtraining Short-term overtraining, lasting less than 3 weeks, is a regular part of athletic training that leads to a state of overreaching in affected athletes. This state of overreaching is characterized by a transient

This article addresses underrecovery as a key component in the development of overtraining and burnout. A constant lack of recovery or disturbed recovery results in overtraining or burnout, which frequently occur in sports. Even being slightly underrecovered over a longer period of time results in underperformance.



At the 2002 Soccer World Championships in Japan and Korea, teams that were favored to win the World Cup, such as France and Portugal, did not survive the first round in the tournament. During and immediately after the World Cup, some journalists and the World Soccer Association (FIFA) started a discussion about why these teams were not able to perform at their expected level. A connection was quickly made to burnout, overtraining, and underrecovery due to the game schedule of the players during the season. Especially athletes from suc- cessful clubs playing in international competitions, such as the Champion League or the Uefa-Cub in Europe, have a very tight competition calendar. For example, Hertha BSC played more games than any of the other German professional soccer teams in the first half of the 1999/2000 season—29 games in 18 weeks, which is an

Encyclopedia of Applied Psychology,



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