The word failure has a lot of different meanings for athletes ranging from embarrassment and rock-bottom challenge and hardship. Failure often has the connotation that an athlete has made some type of mistake in their performance; whether it be game/match-defining or just a bump along the way; big ‘F’ Failure versus little ‘f’ failure. One seems more sinister than the other.
But what they don’t know is that even though, they may see one failure as being worse than another, they often experience the same reaction, the same thoughts to each type of ‘failure’. For athletes who don’t invest their time in mental skills, their reaction is at least not productive, at most, catastrophic, for their performance.
A lot of athletes are perfectionists who take on “all or nothing” thinking strategies. You either ace the play, game, shift, etc. or you completely screw it up. Given that perfection is nearly impossible, you can imagine where most athlete’s mindsets go; total screw up. This defeating attitude results in total loss of confidence and acts like carbon monoxide in the brain; stifling their ability to get things done.
Failure is inevitable. ‘It doesn’t matter how many times you get knocked down, what matters is how many times you get back up’ or something like that. But it’s true. As athletes we can’t look at failure as an all-encompassing result, meaning that it dictates our entire performance as a whole or predicts our future performances.
We have to be able to look at ‘failures’ as building blocks for learning so that we can get back and get back to performing at our peak state as soon as possible. No sport is perfect. The winning teams and winning individuals have figured out how to use their failures to their advantage; to learn from them and apply that knowledge moving forward becoming better with each little ‘failure’.