Irrational beliefs predict increased emotional and physical exhaustion in Gaelic football athletes

Martin J. Turner and Maurice Moore

Centre for Sport, Health, and Exercise Research, Staffordshire University, United Kingdom

In a large-scale investigation by the Economic and Social Research Institute, it was revealed that over 51% of Gaelic footballers drop out. Athlete burnout has been associated with increased dropout, but the psychological antecedents to burnout remain under debate. This study implemented a short-term repeated-measures design to assess fluctuations in burnout over time, and the association between changes in burnout and irrational beliefs. Elite Gaelic footballers (N = 46) completed a burnout questionnaire at six timepoints across eight weeks in a competitive season, and an irrational beliefs questionnaire at the beginning and end of the eight weeks. In contrast to previous research, burnout did not fluctuate. Irrational beliefs significantly predicted increased emotional and physical exhaustion (one dimension of burnout). This is the first study to show a relationship between irrational beliefs and emotional and physical exhaustion in athletes. The implications of these findings are discussed alongside priorities for future research.

Keywords: Athlete burnout, Dropout; emotion, Gaelic football, Irrational beliefs