Learn from top athletes how to embrace failure


Learn from top athletes how to embrace failure – I’ve been learning a great deal about sports psychology as I’m coaching a top sportsperson at present.

There are several things that separate Olympic winning athletes from the rest of us. One is that they factor in rest and recovery into their training schedules. They know that recovery is key to future success.

Another is that they learn to accept failure and move on.

If you watch many top-level sports, such as the Wimbledon Tennis finals, you will see the coaches and family members make a ‘move on’ or ‘cut off’ gesture to a player who has just lost a game. What they are saying is, ‘It’s done. Acknowledge it and move on. Forget it for now. We can analyse it later’.

Because if the player dwelled on the poor set or lost points and was hard on themselves it would hurt their continued performance and confidence.

They will have learned how to see failure in a different light.

That it is OK to make a mistake as long as you learn from it and move on. Because in many sports if you don’t take risks or stay present and effectively ‘in the game’ then you will not win.

This is also true of great military battles. I am thinking here particularly of that scene in the movie Gladiator when the slaves are in the arena, about to recreate the fall of Carthage and the odds are all stacked against them but Maximus inspires them by saying: “Whatever comes out of those gates, we’ve got a better chance of survival if we work together. Do you understand? If we stay together, we survive.”

And they do.

Football legend Sir Alex Ferguson would make his players analyse their performances after a match. Particularly if it was poor. This was said to help weed out those with a negative mindset, versus those who had a positive mindset and were able to be accountable for their performance, and thus willingness to improve.

What owning your failures does is it allows you to take risks and also to learn and overcome any shortcomings you recognise.

Being in a place of not wanting to take a risk for fear of failure leads to procrastination and being stuck.

It is not about being reckless. It is about seeing other options.

Planning ahead for what would happen if you succeeded and what you would need to do if you don’t.

Instead of feeling like a failure you then feel like someone who is improving all the time. Learning and growing. Getting better. Like a baby learning to walk. They don’t give up at the first few attempts as they wobble and fall. They don’t label themselves as a failure. If they did, we would all be crawling as adults.

They persevere.

So have this mindset too and who knows what success may come your way. Or what great learnings and improved resilience you will gain.

Get in touch if you would like to find out more or discuss this further – https://rosalynpalmer.com/contact/