A very well known sport psychologist, Dr. Adam Nicholls, found that “performance is impaired more by the expectation that failure will indicate one’s lack of competence than by the mere expectation of failure to complete a task.”
Athletes can become much immersed in the expectation others have on them to the point that their performances become one of not wanting to fail others more than accepting one’s potential. Athletes do not want to disappoint parents and/or the coach. They do not want to let down fans or teammates. They do not want to be embarrassed.
Competing is already difficult task. Winning may just be a fluke. There are so many variables that may interfere with achieving one’s optimal goal that athletes can become overly stressed about hearing they underperformed. Even performing at the athletes’ best does not guarantee winning.
Athletes can only manage themselves as long as they keep striving to achieve their best. Every event is food for thought. It is an opportunity to evaluate what needs to be addressed in order to continue exhaling. Maybe that athlete needs to improve the technique, physical shape, eating habits, or mental preparation.
If you find yourself fearing losing, continue working hard to increase your confidence by paying attention to what you can manage.