How Perfectionism Can Lead to Fear of Failure
A sports parent writes:
“My child is a 9-year old figure skater. She is very passionate with her sport but sometimes she tend to get very frustrated when she performs poorly in her program. Also, when she is performing well, her coach is very perfectionist and they will tell her tiny mistakes that would have made the program or element perfectly executed. She gets discouraged when she hears the corrections. How do I keep her focused and have more self-confidence?”
It sounds like your daughter is a perfectionist, and even worse, she’s being pushed by her coaches to be a perfectionist.
It’s important to understand that perfectionism in sports is both a gift and a curse.
It’s a gift because perfectionists work hard and practice hard to improve. It’s a curse because with perfectionism comes fear of failure.
Fear of failure will cause sports kids to try too hard, and they end up getting in their own way. They become frustrated when their high expectations are not met, and hurts their performance.
Their self-confidence is undermined when these high expectations are repeatedly not met, and their performance suffers.
This fear of failure will cause your children to worry so much about making mistakes and failing that it will CAUSE them to make mistakes and fail.
When perfectionists do not live up to their expectations, they feel like they are letting down not just themselves, but everyone around them. They feel that making mistakes is unacceptable so they over-compensate.
When trying to over-compensate by trying harder to be perfect, they end up playing worse instead.
If your kids are perfectionists, you should support their work ethics while taking a look at their expectations, along with them. They should avoid any expectations that focus on results only, such as points scored or wins and losses.
In fact, any goal that causes your children to become upset or lose confidence should be avoided. Leave statistics to the statisticians.
While they may be good for reflection and analysis, they are not helpful for goal-setting in youth sports.
Instead, concentrate on process goals, which are goals involving the process of the sport. For example, instead of focusing on getting three steals a game, an outcome oriented goal, set a goal of staying between their opponent and the basket.
This way, their goal is an in-game action instead of a result-oriented and potentially harmful goal.
Want to learn more about how to help perfectionists in youth sports?
Check out our program, “Helping Young Athletes Kick Perfectionism and Fear of 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
- Perform more freely
- Think more creatively
- Stop worrying about what others’ think
- Dramatically improve their performance and attitude in sports
- Stop criticizing themselves
- 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.