Health, Exercise, and Sports Sciences ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 8-1-2023


One area of athlete well-being garnering increasing attention is athletes’ experience of burnout (Gould & Whitley, 2009). According to Coakley (1992), burnout is a social phenomenon grounded in a set of social relations through which young athletes become disempowered in their sport participation that can lead to fatigue and dropout. Therefore, efforts to reduce athletes’ likelihood of experiencing burnout are important. Often overlooked in the college athlete literature are the experiences of college athletes in youth sport. Yet almost all college athletes participate in competitive youth sport. Therefore, in seeking to further our understanding of college athletes’ burnout experience, it is important to understand how college athletes suffering from burnout may have been impacted by their youth sport experiences. The purpose of this study then, was to examine the intense youth sport experience of current and former college athletes to determine how youth sport experiences influence experiences of burnout at the collegiate level. The study is guided by the concept of burnout, and the burnout literature, in addition to Côté’s (1999) sport development model, which outlines the stages of youth athlete development and participation. The study sort to answer the following research questions: (RQ1) What are the lived experiences of current and former women’s college basketball players with burnout in youth and college sport? (RQ2) How do college women basketball players believe their current experiences with burnout are influenced by their experiences of burnout as youth athletes? (RQ3) How do women’s college basketball players believe the impact of the social systems for youth and college sports contribute to burnout? Nine semi-structured interviews were conducted with current and former women’s college basketball players. Findings suggest women’s college basketball players experiencing symptoms of burnout are influenced by their youth sport experiences, in some cases also experiencing some symptoms of burnout as youth athletes. Findings, therefore, provide an important contribution to our understanding of college athletes’ experiences of burnout by highlighting the influence of the often-overlooked youth sport experience of college athletes. Implications for athletic department administrators, as well as youth sport providers for addressing burnout are introduced.


Burnout, Youth Sport, College Sport, Sport Development Model, Unidimensional Identity Development and External Control Model, Southwest Region

Document Type




Degree Name

Physical Education

Level of Degree


Department Name

Health, Exercise, and Sports Sciences

First Committee Member (Chair)

Edward Horne

Second Committee Member

Ashley Martin-Cuellar

Third Committee Member

Todd Seidler