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Last updated:

April 7, 2022


Unlimited Duration


This course includes:

Unlimited Duration

Badge on Completion

Certificate of completion

Unlimited Duration


Do you have experience of dedicated sport or fitness training – either as a participant, a coach or as a parent supporting your child?

Are you interested to find out how some individuals may be adversely impacted by their commitment to training?

In this free course Learning from sport burnout and overtraining, you will meet a number of sports people who have become successful in their sport as a result of their dedication to training. You will also encounter others who have suffered psychologically and fallen out of love with their sport.

This ‘burnout’ may be caused by a range of different contributing factors that you will explore from different perspectives. In doing so, you will gain a deeper understanding of the physical and mental aspects of sport such as athletic identity, overtraining and perfectionism.

Throughout this course, you will study sports people who have experienced overtraining, which is often a pre-cursor to burnout, but who have successfully returned to later career success. By the end of the course you will also have a better understanding of your own work or training situation and the balance between physical and emotional stress and recovery.

The course is introduced by sport psychologist Kate Goodger. She is one of the most experienced performance psychologists in British Olympic sport having worked with athletes at seven Olympic Games and has researched burnout extensively.

Enrolling on the course will give you the opportunity to earn an Open University digital badge. Badges are not accredited by The Open University but they're a great way to demonstrate your interest in the subject and commitment to your career, and to provide evidence of continuing professional development.

Once you are signed in, you can manage your digital badges online from My OpenLearn. In addition, you can download and print your OpenLearn statement of participation – which also displays your Open University badge.

The Open University would really appreciate a few minutes of your time to tell us about yourself and your expectations for the course before you begin, in our start-of-course survey . Once you complete the course we would also value your feedback and suggestions for future improvement, in our end-of-course survey . Participation will be completely confidential and we will not pass on your details to others.

Earn this free Open University digital badge if you complete this course! The badge can be displayed, shared and downloaded as a marker of your achievement. The badge is awarded for completing the course and passing the quizzes.

Course learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • Understand what burnout and overtraining are, the relationship between them and how they can affect athletes and coaches differently
  • Describe the main factors influencing burnout and some of the key theories and models used to explain it in sport psychology
  • Evaluate coach and parent contribution to the motivational climate in sport and how they can help prevent burnout and overtraining
  • Identify strategies to help prevent and manage sport burnout and overtraining.

Course Curriculum

  • Introduction and guidance 00:15:00
  • What is a badged course? 00:10:00
  • How to get a badge 00:15:00
    • Introduction 00:10:00
    • Case study: Jonathan Trott 00:10:00
    • Jonathan Trott: the TV documentary 00:20:00
    • How does the research literature describe burnout? 00:15:00
    • Case study: Ellie Simmonds 00:10:00
    • The drip, drip, drip effect of stress 00:20:00
    • Gould’s research into tennis 00:10:00
    • What can you learn from burnout? 00:10:00
    • Summary of Session 1 00:15:00
    • Acknowledgements 00:15:00
    • Introduction 00:15:00
    • Case study: Elinor Barker 00:15:00
    • Four main perspectives of burnout 00:20:00
    • How can you measure burnout? 00:20:00
    • Fifteen factors influencing burnout 00:15:00
    • The sport psychologist’s viewpoint 00:15:00
    • Summary of Session 2 00:15:00
    • Acknowledgements 00:15:00
    • Introduction 00:15:00
    • Identity: what do burned out athletes say? 00:25:00
    • Case study: Steve Magness 00:15:00
    • What is your identity? 00:15:00
    • Overtraining and burnout 00:15:00
    • The physiology of overtraining 00:15:00
    • The fine line between overreaching and overtraining 00:15:00
    • Learning from the physiology 00:10:00
    • Summary of Session 3 00:15:00
    • Acknowledgements 00:15:00
    • Introduction 00:15:00
    • Individual vs. situational influences 00:15:00
    • Insight: recovery is training 00:15:00
    • Insight: the health risks of underrecovery 00:15:00
    • Insight: less is more 00:10:00
    • Insight: a medical assessment 00:20:00
    • Insight: surveillance or support? 00:10:00
    • The reliability of monitoring 00:15:00
    • Summary of Session 4 00:15:00
    • Acknowledgements 00:15:00
    • Introduction 00:15:00
    • Why is a sense of control important in motivation? 00:15:00
    • Case study: Victoria Pendleton 00:20:00
    • Pendleton’s expectations: motivational climates in sport 00:15:00
    • Needs supportive coaching 00:10:00
    • Pendleton and the psychiatrist: a decade later 00:15:00
    • Perfectionism: a double-edged sword? 00:15:00
    • Case study: Jono Kitto 00:15:00
    • Two types of perfectionism: which is a hindrance? 00:05:00
    • Summary of Session 5 00:15:00
    • Acknowledgements 00:10:00
    • Introduction 00:10:00
    • Case study: Ian Braid 00:15:00
    • The role of emotional labour 00:15:00
    • Case study: Andy (athletics coach) 00:15:00
    • Past caring: depersonalisation 00:15:00
    • Case study: Molly (figure skating) 00:15:00
    • Summary of Session 6 00:15:00
    • Acknowledgements 00:15:00
    • Introduction 00:15:00
    • A tailored response to burnout 00:20:00
    • Preventing overtraining 00:20:00
    • Needs supportive coaching 00:20:00
    • Creating a mastery motivational climate 00:20:00
    • A short recap: the three preventative strategies 00:10:00
    • Parental involvement and early specialisation 00:25:00
    • Fostering a broad identity 00:20:00
    • Tips for parenting children in sport 00:15:00
    • Summary of Session 7 00:15:00
    • Acknowledgements 00:15:00
    • Introduction 00:10:00
    • The range of strategies 00:15:00
    • Managing setbacks: the self-compassion strategy 00:15:00
    • Case study: John Bergland 00:20:00
    • Goal setting for reducing burnout 00:15:00
    • Goal setting for athletes experiencing burnout 00:20:00
    • The social support strategy 00:15:00
    • Categories of social support 00:15:00
    • Helping athletes feel supported 00:20:00
    • Bringing it all together: how can you help manage burnout? 00:05:00
    • Summary of Session 8 00:15:00
    • Where next? 00:10:00
    • Acknowledgements 00:15:00

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