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Overcoming Your Mental Game Fears

Is your potential held back by fear? If you can't break through your performance barriers and are spinning your wheels, it's a good bet that you are limited by a wall of worry - your own fears.

Fear comes in many forms - fear of failure, fear of success, fear or embarrassment, and so on. Many of my students hit a wall of worry caused by these fears and many others.

More than any other fear, fear of failure limits athletes from performing their best and can cause athletes to give up their dreams in sports.

Do you feel like you are constantly banging you head against an imaginary wall because you work harder and harder to perform your best, but only become more frustrated with a lack of improvement or results?

For many athletes, it is far easier to work harder and harder than to address their internal demons that hold them back. Most athletes will make a change in strategy or technique to improve performance long before they attempt to look inside at self-sabotaging beliefs.

It does not matter how hard you work at your sport unless you work effectively and work on the right areas. All the hard work you do to race toward your athletic goals can backfire when you hit a brick wall of worry caused by fear of failure.

Most athletes have lofty goals, love to train hard, and want to be successful. *But* they are too engrossed with their regular practice routines to stop and address the biggest roadblock on the path of success - fear of failure and beliefs that limit your physical potential.

Several mental game challenges are stuck to fear of failure like flypaper, such as low self-confidence, worry about making mistakes, fear of rejection or embarrassment, and the list goes on.

One of the biggest downsides of fear of failure is having an intense avoidance mindset. Athletes with an avoidance mindset strive to avoid pain instead of striving for success. These athletes' minds are conditioned to avoid making mistakes and emotional pain at all costs.

The first place to start in order to stop fear of failure is to identify what type of fear causes you to bang your head against the imaginary wall of worry. Keep in mind that most of these fears are born out of an intense desire to succeed or to avoid negative social scrutiny.

Most athletes with fear of failure are afraid to fail or lose because they work so hard to achieve their goals and succeed. This intense desire to succeed causes athletes to worry about not getting what they badly want.

An athlete becomes so worried about not achieving (or gaining social recognition) that he or she thinks too much about avoiding failure.

The next step or change you must make to break through the wall of worry is to focus your mind on striving for success instead of avoiding failure. When you focus your mind on obtaining success, you will come closer to obtaining it.

Finally, make sure that all the mental pictures or movies in your mind help you strive for success rather than cause you to avoid failure.


Want to learn simple, proven mental toughness skills that you can apply to competition? Grab my free online mental training newsletter, Sports Insights Magazine - for athletes, coachesFree Articles, and sports parents:

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Dr. Patrick Cohn is a master mental game coach who work with professional and amateur athletes, sports parents, and teams of all levels. Visit for more information.

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