How to Eliminate Fear of Failure

February 2, 2013 | Colby Harris

Do you struggle on a daily basis with negative thoughts? Have you ever stopped to think about why you have them? All negative thoughts boil down to one defining point: fear of failure. This fear can devastate an athletic career. People burn out and lose their self-confidence. However when psychology and sports come together, it reveals the difference between average athletes and great ones. (See Sports Psychology Training: The Power of Postive Thoughts.)

So now the big question is, why are you so scared to fail? I hate to tell you, but there will come a time when you drop a pass, miss a layup, strike out or fall flat. Big deal. That's life. You have to accept the fact that you will fail yet not let it defeat you. (Learn how Failure became the fuel for Judo Champion Kayla Harrison.)

More often than not, you'll become what you think of yourself, so you can't be worried about what others think or whether your coach gets upset. If you are worried about failing, you can't  allow yourself the freedom to succeed. Your fear of failure leads to a lack of motivation, which leads to laziness. Next thing you know, you're riding the bench or you've quit your sport altogether.

Success breeds confidence. By setting specific goals, you'll build this confidence and achieve success. Your long-term goal may be to run faster. That's not specific enough. You need to consider exactly how fast are you right now, how fast you want to be, for what distance and how long you have to reach your goal. The more specifically you can define your goals, the easier they are to visualize, allowing you to see small successes on your journey. (Read Use Positive Visualization to Sharpen Mental Focus and Improve Performance.)

To rid yourself of thoughts of failure, you absolutely must replace them with specific, positive thoughts of success. Picture yourself catching a game-winning touchdown pass or hitting the game-winning home run. Whatever sport you play, involve all your senses in the visualization. What time of day is it? Is it hot or cold outside? What are the smells in the air? Is the crowd cheering loudly? Zero in on the exact moment of your great play. Visualization is a great mental tool to significantly enhance physical performance.

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