If you’re like most dedicated athletes, then you have both a commitment to excellence and a strong work ethic. Great athletes know that the very best way to get to a goal is to be willing to do whatever it takes, effort-wise. The bottom line: Hard work is the key that unlocks the door to success.
If you meet your failures and setbacks with this kind of “working harder” approach, then there will be very little that you won’t be able to accomplish. However, there’s one, teensy, weensy catch here. The hard work won’t take you as far as you’d like to go if you tend to get angry at yourself whenever you fail. Far too many athletes meet their failures and disappointments with self-directed anger and frustration. They get upset with themselves for messing up. They put themselves down. They blame themselves for their team’s loss. The are harsh and unforgiving to themselves.
Know what happens when you respond to your failures in this way? Your self-confidence does a nosedive, and your internal stress level will go through the roof. The end result of this one, two punch is to KO your practice and performances.
NEWSFLASH! Putting yourself down when you fail or make mistakes will NOT make you a better athlete. ON THE CONTRARY! Responding to your failings with frustration and self-directed anger will only tighten you up and ultimately shut your game down. Playing angry in this way will get you performing at a small percentage of your potential.
Instead, you need to learn to respond to yourself the way a good coach would. You have to be able to forgive yourself for your failings and mistakes. You have to learn to treat yourself with patience and kindness whenever you fail rather than impatience and meanness. Beating yourself up for your shortcomings will ultimately kill your motivation and joy of the sport and once you lose those two, you’re lost!
So start practicing being a better “inner coach” to yourself. After a setback, mistake or failure, try talking to yourself the way you might talk to your best friend. i.e. “It’s OK. I know you’re disappointed. You’ll get another chance. You can do this. Just keep working hard. You’re a great athlete. It’ll come.”
Put the self-directed anger, frustration and impatience away. Those emotions have little to no constructive value in your training and development as an athlete. They will not help you become a champion. They will, instead, seriously hold you back. Forgive, forget and then move on after messing up. That is the way of a champion.