On the surface, perfectionism may seem like a positive trait for an athlete to have. After all, isn’t it every athlete’s goal to strive for perfection and settle for nothing less than the best?
It stokes a fire in you, keeps you motivated and encourages you to set big goals. At the same time, this drive to be perfect helps you find flaws and weaknesses in your performance that you can improve. Perfectionist athletes are never truly happy with their performance. That’s where the trouble lies.
Perfectionism is the Athlete’s Achille’s Heel
When you only strive for perfection, you never truly enjoy and appreciate all of the things that you’ve accomplished. You’re never in the moment because you’re constantly focused on the future and how you can improve your performance.
Perfectionism is blinding. Because you are constantly striving for improvement, you never truly realize that your last performance was actually pretty impressive. When you fixate on one minor mistake, you lose perspective of your entire performance.
The perfectionist athlete is absolutely convinced that their coaches, friends and loved ones are lying when they praise their performance. That’s because they can only see their imperfections.
Athletes who get stuck in the cycle of perfectionism ultimately suffer from burn out and never truly enjoy their sport. You should enjoy competing and practicing. Setting such high, unreachable expectations on yourself only adds to the pressure and harms your performance. That leads to more disappointment and striving, continuing the vicious cycle.
Each perceived failure drains just a little more joy from the process and weakens your confidence. You reach a point where you question your motives and whether it’s worth living in a constant state of frustration.
Ultimately, perfectionism can rob you of your joy and love for the sport. It also prevents you from feeling good about your performance and recognizing your achievements.
If you’re constantly looking for flaws in your performance, you will never feel good enough and never have the chance to appreciate the times you played well.
This feeling of never being good enough can bleed into other areas of your life, further harming your confidence and ability to enjoy the game.
Never Expect Perfectionism
It’s true that great athletes are always striving for improvement. There’s no room for complacency in athletics. It’s okay to strive for perfection, but it’s NOT okay to expect it. That’s the biggest mistake you can make.
Perfectionism gives you the drive you need to push yourself and break boundaries. But expecting yourself to be perfect will be your downfall. No one is perfect – no matter how hard we try. If you expect to give a flawless performance every time, you will spend a lot of time feeling frustrated.
Every athlete wants to achieve that memorable, flawless performance, but expecting it will only set you up for disappointment.
Strive for improvement, but also recognize when you have performed well. This will boost your self-confidence and keep you motivated to play. But more importantly, it will fuel your joy and passion for the game.