Athlete, take a sabbath
Advice for the athlete struggling with burnout.
never miss a play
Get weekly articles on sport culture, relationships, and identity.
How often do we think that we’re invincible? Just because we’re athletes, that doesn’t mean we don’t need to take a break every once in a while.
When God created the world, He intentionally created a Sabbath to be built into the rhythm of creation. Six days of hard, vigorous work, and one day to simply rest — to just be still. God Himself, Creator of all things, Lord of Hosts, rested.
He invites us into that posture of rest with Him. We can lean into His loving embrace, trust Him, and allow ourselves to be still in His presence — yes, even as a busy athlete.
Our bodies, souls and minds aren’t designed to go all out, 110%, every single day. We’re actually hardwired to be with the Lord, our Creator, including in rest.
Thayer Hall, University of Florida volleyball alum and 4x All-American, told us about her experience with rest while balancing her intense volleyball schedule.
Watch thayer's take on "rest"
We may be tempted to believe that elite athletes like Thayer use their off days to get even more ahead than they already are. Surely they hit the gym, do some drills, and watch film on their day off. I mean, there’s no way you could be that good and take an off day to do nothing but rest … right?
Wrong. Despite Thayer’s busy schedule, she made the most of her days off by resting with the Father. She made it a habit to spend time reading her Bible, having true, undisturbed quality time with God.
She did things that were filling to her, like going out for coffee or sitting in the Florida sun. By doing this, she rested her body, mind and soul, allowing herself to “reset” before her busy week ahead. She joined God in the rhythm of Sabbath that He created for us.
Here are THREE MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT SABBATHS, as well as practical ways to implement a Sabbath day correctly:
1.) SUNDAYS ARE THE ONLY DAY TO SABBATH.
- Wrong. Like Thayer mentioned, it doesn’t have to be a Sunday. God built in a rhythm for us, not a specific day.
- We can pick any day of the week to Sabbath, and any time. For Thayer, it was her off day from volleyball each week, which usually wasn’t on a Sunday. And, realistically, we might not always have an entire 24 hour block of time each week. Pick a day in the week you can block off for a Sabbath, for as long as you can — and if you’re “too busy” every day, maybe take some time to re-evaluate your priorities.
2.) I HAVE TO BE LAZY ON MY SABBATH.
- Wrong. You don’t have to just sit in bed all day, doing nothing, to Sabbath. In all honesty, that’s not restful for anyone. Rest is not synonymous with laziness.
- We can be active on a Sabbath. Get outside and take a hike if that’s restful for you. Grab coffee with a friend. Ride your bike, go for a jog, read your favorite book, take your dog for a walk. Most importantly, spend lots of time with your Creator. Do the things that are restful for you. Take a break from routine, and join God in the rest He has invited you into.
3.) I HAVE TO BE EXTRA HOLY AND SPIRITUAL ON MY SABBATH.
- Wrong. Again, Sabbath is just a time to join God in the rest He has already invited you to — it really is so simple. You don’t have to “do” certain things, or “abstain” from certain things.
- Do things that bring you closer to God, things that allow you to get a better view of who He is. For some, that’s spending time outdoors, marveling at God’s creation. For others, it’s spending hours reading, appreciating the vast amounts of wisdom found in Scripture and in other books. Spend some time finding out how you personally see the Lord the most clearly, and do it on your Sabbath (or any time you can, really).
Athlete, just take a day of rest, to abide with the One who loves you most. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.