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Fear of Failure

Managing pressure
Fear of failure
Stress management
managing fear of failure in sport

What fear of failure means

Fear of failure is about the fear of poor results or fear about the negative consequences of performing badly. Athletes worry about letting themselves down and letting their team and coach or manager down.

They may also worry about disappointing a parent or family member or not living up to the public's expectations.

Fear of failure is often rooted in what an athlete assumes other people will think about him or her if and when they see them performing poorly.  


Fear of failure covers anxiety about losing, being seen as a failure, letting other people down, not living up to expectations, choking or embarrassing yourself.

Fear of failure is linked to perfectionism. Many elite athletes are perfectionists who have very high expectations of themselves and this can lead them to worry excessively about losing or failing. 

Fear of failure can lead an athlete to focus on how to avoid situations and experience negative thoughts and feelings and high anxiety. In short, fear of failure leads athletes to lose their winning mentality.

Keys to regulating fear of failure

Here are some keys to managing your feelings and emotions and not letting yourself be overcome by fear of failure.

  Accept/tell yourself that you will not achieve your goals without learning from losses, mistakes and errors.  
  Overcome fear of failure by trying different approaches and persisting until you achieve your goals/succeed.  
  Take the positives out of a situation where you don’t perform the way you planned and analyze what you are going to do differently next time.  
  Use positive affirmations such as "I don’t worry about what people think" to counter thoughts about failing.  
  Don't be tot hard on yourself when you don't succeed.  
  Get failure into perspective and learn something every time you lose.  


Watch this video

To develop your understanding of how to conquer fear of failure, watch this video by Patrick Cohn talking about how fear holds tennis players back.


Read this book

Read The Achilles Syndrome: Overcoming the Secret Fear of Failure by Petruska Clarkson.