Being Perfect Comes at a Cost for Athletes

Being perfect comes at a cost

Sport Psychology Tips: Being Perfect Comes at a Cost for Athletes

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Do you have high expectations of yourself?

A lot athletes I have supported have struggle with perfectionism when practicing and competing.  Perfectionist athletes demand a lot from themselves.  They have high and unrealistic expectations.  This can then lead to self-doubt and uncertainty when they do not perform to the standards that they set themselves.  These athletes often focus too much on perfecting their technique, the score or their performance targets.

The good news for perfectionists is that they are driven, determined and motivated to improve.

The downside means that they:

  • Quickly lose confidence
  • Expect to make no errors
  • Are very hard on themselves
  • Often lose their temper
  • Dwell on mistakes
  • Get stuck in a training mindset

How can I fix my perfectionist tendencies?

Perfectionist athletes lack knowledge on how to deal with the problem or deny that it damages their game.  The solution isn’t an easy one, however it is possible to achieve and the rewards can be fantastic!

Get the Most Out of Your Ability

You’ll find the following Demystifying Mental Toughness Podcast episodes very helpful to address such faulty thinking.

Episode 017 – Gio Valiante who talks about how to play fearlessly and find the zone, ditching expectations and your ego along the way.

Episode 023 Robbie Thompson also talks about how people set themselves up for failure with their expectations and beliefs.

Check Out Your Expectations

Another useful thing to do is address your expectations.

Get a pen and paper out.  I often ask my client’s to list them on a sheet of paper.

Things like, your sleeping routines, your nutrition, your individual skills, other people, your opponents.

By writing things down such as:

  • I expect Helen to pass to me when she gets the ball.
  • I expect to hole every 4 foot putt.
  • I expect to beat Jonny in the race at the weekend.

This exercise in itself can be very powerful and then allow you to create the rules and set some more realistic targets which can inch you towards your bigger goals and ambitions.

If this article resonates with you and you weren’t already aware I’m running a challenge.  The Confident Athlete FREE 3 Day Challenge is for ambitious and highly motivated athletes who put themselves under too much pressure and would like to perform better when it really counts.

Please share this with your teammates, friends or coaches.  The more sign ups the more you’ll will get from the challenge.

You can also sign up to “The Mental Edge” for Sports Psychology updates and tips.

David Charlton

Best Wishes 

David Charlton

Global Sports Psychologist located near Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK and willing to travel Internationally. 


Managing Director – Inspiring Sporting Excellence.  With over 10 years experience supporting athletes, coaches, parents and teams to achieve their goals, quickly.  

T: +44 7734 697769

E: [email protected]

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