Overtraining in the NCAA

When I was 17 years old, coaches from the USA contacted me to ask if I wanted to study in the USA; I always said NO. Why not?

I heard so often that in the US, you get overtrained, and when you come back, you’re burned out and can’t improve anymore. This made me too afraid to even really talk to coaches and listen to what they were saying.

But first of all, what does overtraining or burn out even mean? I think a lot of people use that term, especially referring to the US, without truly knowing its meaning… So a short definition here:

Overtraining refers to a condition in physical fitness where an individual exceeds their body’s ability to recover from intense training, leading to a decline in performance and potential health issues. In a broader context, burnout or overtraining can also manifest in mental fatigue, characterized by persistent exhaustion, reduced motivation, and impaired cognitive function due to prolonged and excessive mental stress.

4 years later, when I decided to try the USA, I knew that the possibility of getting overtrained/burned out was there. But is this unique to the USA? No, it’s not. It can happen anywhere, especially if you don’t listen to your body. So, I felt confident enough that I would not get overtrained.

I think it is essential to be aware that burnout is possible and choose a coach that fits you to reduce the likelihood of burnout. I felt confident in my choice.

Recovering from a stress fracture, the answer to whether I overtrained while I was in the US is probably obvious.

I probably did overtrain to some extent.

But I still don’t think overtraining happens everywhere in the US, and I think I could have prevented overtraining by listening to my body better and communicating with my coaches. They need to learn that when an athlete gives them feedback, they just need to believe it and not question whether they are in pain and should push through it.

Communicating and advocating for yourself is always important and maybe even more important in the US than in other countries. Coaches are interested in you competing because that is what the whole college sports business is about. So they will not hold you back if you say you are in pain, and they may push you beyond your pain. At that point, you have to set strict limits for yourself and not let yourself be pushed through the pain. You have to stand up for your body’s health and not do whatever you are asked to do.

And that was my mistake; I did what I was asked to do without saying no…. I could have always said NO clearly, and no one could have forced me to run. (To be honest, that makes me quite upset about myself for not being strong enough to say no when I knew I shouldn’t continue running…)

Yes, you will train a lot in the US and probably more than you did back home. But you will also have more options for recovery, such as working with an athletic trainer regularly or using recovery boots regularly. If you learn to listen to your body, build a trusting relationship with your coach, and, most importantly, learn to advocate for yourself no matter what a coach tells you, I don’t think you’ll get to the point of overtraining. It’s also important to learn that recovery days are for recovery, and you don’t have to push yourself every single session. This will also help prevent overtraining.

However, learning to say NO is crucial in this process; otherwise, the risk of overtraining could be higher. Communication and working closely with your coach are crucial no matter where you train, and keeping this in mind during the recruitment process is also important. A good relationship with your coach will be fundamental, and not the school’s name or conference will help you become the best athlete – more on that later.

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2 thoughts on “Overtraining in the NCAA”

  1. That was so interesting to read ! I agree with most of what you have wrote and explained ! However, it depends sometimes somewhat the amount of training cuz I see myself doing a lot more back home then there in NCAA.
    Overall, enjoyed your blog and keep POSTING !

    1. You are totally right, that this can be differ between for everyone. I think you can hanlde a high workload also because your communications wth your coach is really good, and you know your body good as well. I am excited to see you training back home soon!!

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