How to Identify Pickleball Burnout Signs and Cope

You would be hard-pressed to find anyone more in love with pickleball over the past 15 months. 

From my first lesson to launching this pickleball blog to getting certified, I have been ALL IN, driving everyone nuts with my incessant pickleball chatter.

But last week, after scraping myself off the couch and dropping my first few games, I sighed deeply and thought, “Pickleball sucks.” 

That was it. 

That’s when I knew I was teetering on the brink of burnout. 

Suddenly, the sound of the paddle hitting the ball felt like a taunt. At that moment, I realized that the game I once loved was now draining the life out of me. 

But unlike a job or a marriage, pickleball is my leisure time–and I have choices. Before looking at solutions for pickleball burnout, let’s look at some warning signs. 

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Loss of Interest: You no longer look forward to playing pickleball, even though you once enjoyed it. This disinterest can extend to both matches and training sessions. It might hit you before leaving the house or getting on the court.

Decreased Performance: Despite your best efforts, your performance on the pickleball court is declining. You may struggle with basic skills, miss easy shots, or simply not play as well as you used to. This is a telltale sign of pickleball burnout.

Physical Exhaustion: You feel physically drained and tired, even when you haven’t been playing or practicing. You might also have lingering aches and pains, or take longer to recover from games than you used to.

pickleball burnout

Frustration and Cynicism: You feel a sense of frustration or cynicism towards the sport. This could manifest in negative feelings towards your opponents, teammates, or the game itself.

Lack of Motivation: Even though you know you need to practice or play, you struggle to find the motivation. Tasks related to pickleball may feel burdensome. This game is supposed to be fun! If it’s not, take a look in the mirror and ask why.

Sleep Problems: Pickleball burnout can manifest during slumber! Your sleep pattern is disrupted, either by difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or having unrestful sleep, and these problems persist even when you aren’t playing or practicing. If pickleball is keeping you up at night (good or bad!), talk to someone.

Anxiety or Stress: You feel anxious or stressed when thinking about pickleball. The thought of upcoming games or tournaments may cause you undue worry or make you feel overwhelmed. Again, if the fun fades, spend your time ding something else.

Neglecting Other Aspects of Life: You might notice that your focus on pickleball has led you to neglect other important areas of your life, like work, family, or friendships. Alternatively, you may lack the energy or desire to engage in these areas, due to your feelings towards the sport.

Changes in Appetite or Weight: You may notice significant fluctuations in your weight or changes in your eating habits. This could be due to a loss of appetite or emotional eating triggered by the stress of burnout.

Feeling Detached or Isolated: Feeling disconnected from your teammates or friends in the pickleball community could be another sign. If you find yourself preferring solitude over the camaraderie of the group, it may indicate burnout.

Decreased Immunity: Persistent stress and exhaustion can weaken immune systems. If you’re getting sick more frequently than usual, it could indicate burnout.

Loss of Concentration: Difficulty focusing or forgetting game strategies and techniques you previously mastered could be another sign of burnout.

So now that you know the signs of pickleball burnout, what can you do about it?

Take a Break: It might seem like a simple solution, but it’s often one of the most effective. If you’re feeling burned out, stepping back and taking a break from the game is okay. Use this time to rest, relax, and recharge. This could be a short break of a few days, or a longer hiatus, depending on what you feel you need. Try engaging in other activities that you enjoy to help rejuvenate your energy and enthusiasm.

Seek Support: It’s important to talk about how you’re feeling. This can be with a trusted friend, family member, coach, or a mental health professional. They can provide a listening ear, advice, and strategies to help manage your feelings of burnout. A professional counselor or sports psychologist can offer valuable tools and coping mechanisms to deal with burnout and stress.

pickleball burnout

Mindfulness and Self-Care: Incorporate mindfulness practices, such as meditation or yoga, into your routine. These activities can help manage stress and improve focus. Regular exercise, adequate sleep, and a healthy diet are essential to maintaining physical and mental health. Remember that self-care is not selfish – it’s necessary to stay healthy and balanced.

Remember, it’s okay to ask for help and take the necessary steps to care for your well-being. Burnout is a serious issue and should be treated as such. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to seek professional help.

We’re only talking about pickleball, right? But you’d be surprised how quickly an innocent hobby can turn into a source of mental wear and tear. 

My final tip: Listen to your body, follow the energy, and do all things in moderation. Life is hard; pickleball shouldn’t be. 

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