How to teach your athletes to overcome fear of failure
Posted by Kurt Earl in Public
The two types of athletes on your team
To some extent, our rosters are full of two types of athletes. They are affectionately referred to as “gamers” and “practice players.”
Gamers can drive us crazy as coaches because they practice with minimal effort and little attention to detail. On game day, however, it’s as if an entirely different person shows up. They play with incredible effort and focus and make plays you had no idea they were capable of making.
Practice players, on the other hand, practice with tremendous effort and strive to dominate the details in every repetition of practice. The problem with practice players is that on game days fear of failure grips their hearts and minds. They are so afraid of making mistakes that they compete at a level far below their practice levels.
Set fears not goals
Setting goals is critical to success. I often say that goals set trajectory. Set goals. But this post is about the opposite of goal setting. This post is about fear setting, an exercise I first learned about from Tim Ferriss. The concept is simple enough, but the impact of the exercise can be profound.
The general idea is to take a few minutes with your team or with an individual who is really struggling with fear of failure and brainstorm the worst possible outcomes on game day. The goal of fear setting is to come face-to-face with the actual worse case scenario.
The most critical component to fear setting is you, as the coach.
The three most important outcomes of fear setting
As the coach it’s your job to make sure that the fear setting exercise ends with three conclusions.
- The worse case scenario, when you really tease it out and name the details, isn’t that bad.
- No matter what happens, you will love and value your players the same.
- Failure is just information on how to do it better next time.
Fear is far more emotional than rationale. Fear setting will help your players set aside their emotions and focus their attention on the facts of the situation.