Tips for Coping with Fear of Failure

The fear of failing can be immobilizing – it can cause us to do nothing or even shut down. This prevents us from being able to move forward and being the athlete or team that we are capable of being. Below you will find several steps to help you shift your focus, so you can start to shine during pressure instead of defeated by it.

  1. Remember your “Why.” Why do you ultimately play the game? Use it to keep yourself in check. Ex. Does a strikeout effect your why in the long run? Don’t sacrifice your why for short term results.
  2. Focus on What You Want to Happen vs What You Don’t. Don’t set goals to avoid mistakes or failure such as to “not strike out.” Set positive goals and goals not based on result, such as to have a quality at-bat vs getting a hit. Don’t be obsessed with avoiding failure, pain, or embarrassment.
  3. Connect with Your Team. Be proactive and build relationships off the field. This will make you stronger on the field and will lead to a greater commitment to each other. When you are committed to each other, it’s easier to overcome pressure and challenges together.
  4. Focus on execution, instead of results. Fear of failure causes an athlete to focus on outcomes and negative consequences. The goal is to stay in the present moment. For ways to train your brain to stay in the moment check out
  5. Opportunity vs Threat. Embrace the challenges of competition instead of fearing the consequences of failure. Love the challenges that come with sports such as playing a tight match. Set simple achievable objectives that are positive, such as “play with trust and confidence for every point.”
  6. Simplify your performance, instead of over think your game. Use simple images and performance cues to perform and trust. Let go of verbal instructions, over-coaching yourself, or over thinking your performance.
  7. Perform freer with a less serious mindset. Remember to have fun. Your sport is supposed to be fun. Let go of mistakes quickly. Consistently use a reset button. Reduce the stress and mind chatter. Don’t dwell on mistakes or errors. Know that mistakes are a natural part of the learning process. Find the “this is good” (“This is Good” | Refuse to Lose Coaching ( in the mistake. Learn from your mistakes after the game; don’t analyze them in the middle of the game.


Tami Matheny is a Mental Game Coach and Author of “The Confident Athlete: 4 Easy Steps to Build and Maintain Confidence” is Good: A Journey To Overcoming Adversity: Matheny, Tami: 9798609780089: Books and “The Confidence Journal”. All books can be purchased online at Amazon. For group discounts contact

Tami owns and runs, Refuse2LoseCoaching which provides mental coaching for athletes and teams at all levels. For more information on mental training contact, follow us on twitter @tamimatheny and @r2lcoaching and visit our website:

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