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Fear of Failure: Does fear hold you back in your sport performance?

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to work with Matt a talented up incoming Rugby League Player. My role was to help him with his Mental Preparation prior to each game. He is a hard training, high energy individual.

Matt struggled with Confidence and his pre-match thoughts before each game. He would train well during the week and was positive and focused.

When it came to game day he would tend to make up excuses. His excuses focused on why he may not perform to the best of his capabilities. His reasons were affecting his motivation and ability to perform well.

Matt’s excuses included previous injuries that were fine now, his diet and how it was lacking. He also spoke of broken sleep prior to game-day.

Making excuses affects personal performance.

Why was Matt creating this Behaviour?

What could be gained by making excuses just before the game? After discussing Matt's pre-match behaviour, we both agreed he was coming up with reasons to excuse himself. If Matt under-performed he could feel justified.

There were three main reasons influencing him to make up excuses. Firstly, Fear of what his team mates, family and coach would think of him if he didn’t perform well.

Secondly his ego, how he would feel if he couldn’t match his opposing winger for speed.

Lastly low Self-confidence, a fear of not being able to back himself in a moment that needed him to be at his best.

Excuses are heard by the sub-conscious

Every time Matt thought of or mentioned an excuse his mind would focus on negative outcomes. Every excuse he repeated was becoming stored by his sub conscious.

He was actually creating a habit with limiting circumstances to match. Matt was completely unaware of this and its impact.

Understand and change fear of failure.

Fear of failure is a common trait in sports people.

Ways to avoid this type of behaviour are to always be conscious of your pre-match thoughts. Observe what you think and say about yourself and ability.

Change any limiting or negative thought instantly, replace it with a positive. “I’m up for this, focused, prepared, ready to roll”. ‘ I’m prepared for a big one today”.

Develop a habit of inserting positive thoughts into your mind. Acknowledge your strengths consistently.

If you are a part of a team be mindful of being drawn into negative based conversations. Be conscious of team members discussing their fears or sharing negatives. Remind team members of the effect sharing negatives and excuses have on Pre-match Preparation. Negative thoughts drain physical energy levels. Positive thoughts energise you.

Fear of failure hasn’t happened yet.

Fear of Failure hasn’t happened it’s just a thought or group of thoughts you are thinking. Entertaining those thoughts is a choice.

The Conscious mind processes thoughts that you insert or thoughts that it FEEDS ITSELF. Don’t let your mind linger on negatives. Take control of the type of thoughts you think. Insert positives.

If you know what you don’t want GOOD! avoid focusing on it, focus on what you want.

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