Athletes who Fear Mistakes
A young athlete writes,
“Sometimes I feel as if I don’t want to keep playing club volleyball and as a person who truly LOVES volleyball I have never ever met a team and coach who puts me down when I make a mistake rather than get me backup and help me improve. Every time I make a mistake my (current) coach tends to take me out of the game and let the other girls play and I always break down crying feeling that I will never get better and I don’t know what to do anymore.”
Sometimes coaches punish kids for messing up in the game. They might bench them from the game or yell at them in front of teammates.
Yes, coaches get frustrated with their players’ mistakes and behave in a way that exacerbates the issue for athletes…
This behavior can backfire for athletes because they then doubt their abilities and play to not make mistakes, which lead to tentative performance.
For instance, if your sports kids’ coach takes them out of the game every time they make a mistake (like this player’s coach), it will lead to fear for athletes when they get into the game.
Young athletes begin to focus more on what coaches think or will do and can’t play freely.
Mistake avoidance will cause your sports children to play tentatively and nervously. If they treat mistakes as something that should be avoided, it will be harder for them to take risks and grow.
They have to play in the moment without fearing of getting taken out of the game is they mess up.
In addition, you want to help your young athletes get past their mistakes and the fear of what the coach might do if they continue to make mistakes….
Help your athletes understand that it’s okay to make mistakes. In fact, mistakes can be valuable learning lessons.
They need to play intuitively and freely–not play to avoid making mistakes!
The Positive Coaching Alliance suggests that when your young athletes make mistakes, make a small “flushing” motion to signal to them that they should flush that mistake and move on with the game.
As a parent, you can help sports kids by encouraging them to focus on the process – the here and now of the game.
If they are playing basketball, they could focus on staying between their opponent and the ball or being more decisive when shooting.
In soccer, they could concentrate on reading opponents and communicating with their teammates.
Learn more by checking out our program for perfectionists and those who fear mistakes and failure:
Help Young Athletes Overcome Perfectionist Challenges in Sports!
Nearly every athlete struggles with some form of perfectionism or fear of failure.
Kids who look like stars in practice will often choke up or under perform during games or competition. Other athletes expect too much of themselves—then get frustrated when they don’t meet their high expectations. Or they’re extremely hard on themselves.
In all cases, this causes young athletes to play it safe. They refuse to take the important risks that help them excel and improve their confidence. Suddenly, they’re held back by fear, indecision, and hesitation.
Learn how to help young athletes overcome the difficult cycle of perfectionism, fear of failure and loss of confidence. You can stop guessing about what to do and say to your athlete!
Our program: “Sports Parents’ Top Dilemma: Helping Young Athletes Kick Perfectionism and Fear of Failure,” will walk you through the problem and arm you with practical solutions you can start implementing today.
You’ll start seeing changes in your young athlete’s confidence almost immediately.
Make your role as sports parent more enjoyable and easier! We tell you how to help your young athletes:
- Let go of mistakes more quickly
- Accept feedback better
- Stop criticizing themselves
- Perform more freely
- Think more creatively
- Stop worrying about what others’ think
- Dramatically improve their performance and attitude in sports
- Improve their confidence in sports
- They, too, will have more fun and reap more rewards.
“Sports Parents’ Top Dilemma: Helping Young Athletes Kick Perfectionism and Fear of Failure,” consists of two parts:
- A 23-page e-book that identifies the challenge, explains why it is harmful to young athletes (but also very common), and gives in-depth, step-by-step “sports psychology” tips for helping kids. Download this instantly!
- A 21-page kids’ sports psychology workbook that is intended to help your kids identify beliefs and expectations that are the root of perfectionism. It will also help them develop strategies to play more freely with less fear in competition.