Every time I get a chance to learn from a world-class tennis coach like Vesa Ponkka from the Junior Tennis Champions Center I jump at the opportunity. Burnout can happen in the career of a tennis player and really to anyone in anything. Think about it, adults burnout in their careers all the time just like kids burnout in sports.
Vesa has a theory about burning out. He believes that people burnout when they stop learning new things. As long as they never stop learning they are engaged in their work no matter how many hours or years they have been doing it. I would say that I personally agree with that idea. I have never burned out in my coaching because I have an improvement mindset. I do not just go through the motions. I am constantly seeking to learn more from other people, reading books, and inventing new things on my own. I have been coaching tennis for 10+ years and not once have I truly felt like I was burnt out from doing it. I attribute that to always learning new things. It keeps me excited to train players and put in the long hours doing so.
I think it is critical to impart that mindset into players from a very young age. Children in the sport of tennis need to have an inquisitive mind about the game. They should be focused less on winning and losing and more about improving each time they step on the court. Vesa says, “Children should know they have lots of time, but no time to waste.” I think that is a profoundly wise statement. Coaches should be imparting that message to their kids, presenting new information and ways to think about the game. I know that after all the years of playing and coaching I am still learning new things, there is defiantly no shortage of things to teach and learn. The game is so complex from the unique scoring system, stroke development, fitness, aspects of competition and the mental/emotional skills.
Avoiding burnout is easy, all you have to do is focus on improvement and constantly seeking to learn new things. It is when you stop learning new things that you start burning out.