Dealing with the fear of making mistakes

Let’s first find out where the fear is coming from?

On a biological level, fear is a chain reaction that takes place in the brain. It is initiated by a stressful stimulus. The body releases many chemicals and levels of the stress hormone cortisol begin to rise. This often leads to a rising heart rate and faster breaths. More energy is sent to your muscles equipping you to defend yourself." Your body engages the "fight-or-flight" response, where you must choose to face the danger, or run away from it. Not all situations we fear are actually dangerous but our body naturally prepares itself to take action anyway.
Although this biological mechanism is crucial in life threating situations, it can work to our disadvantage in the world of sport. A growing sense of anxiety cause by fear can immobilize our body and brain sometimes leaving us paralyzed and imprisoned by panic.
We also experience fear on a social level. The reasons behind these challenging feelings can be associated with self-judgement and people’s unrealistic expectations of themselves. These tyrannical thoughts have stolen victory from many athletes.
From an early age athletes are bombarded with phrases like “we need to get this element down to perfection.” Many people believe that they can only win by achieving perfection. This is continually reinforced by coaches, other athletes and stimuli in and around sporting environments, such as advertising. Constant unhealthy social pressure keeps us striving for perfection in every area of human life. Unfortunately some athletes believe they need to be perfect and they see mistakes as something to be ashamed of.
The truth is you will never be perfect. You will never be able to complete any specific element relating to your sport perfectly! Why? Because as soon as you get to where you want to be, there will be something else you can do better, there is always room for improvement. You can achieve the results you dream of but there will be an automatic question, ‘Can I do more?’ YES! Can I jump 1 cm higher? Can I swim 0.1 second faster? Can I score 1 more point in the next game? We cannot and we should not chase perfection, because we cannot strive for something that does not exist!
It doesn’t matter if you are an athlete or a coach - the solution is the same. You have to accept every mistake as a learning curve in order to develop your skills.
A mature person that wishes to grow understands that each setback you overcome takes you a step closer to your desired objective. Every athlete, including those that stand by you on a starting line make mistakes. They will continue to do so, the same way you and I do every day.
If you ever find your thoughts getting dark, tell yourself: “I cannot improve without making mistakes.” Accepting mistake as a normal part of the training process is vital to your success. When you are competing you have to get over any mistake immediately! It doesn’t matter if you make technical or tactical mistakes, you have to adapt to every situation and deal with them the best way you can. Dealing with fear is totally dependable on your mindset, which is something that you can learn, develop and improve.