Often times I receive calls from athletes (or their parents) expressing concern over inconsistent performance between practice/game situations. Along with the concerns, there are often questions as to why this is happening. To truly identify the specific cause of the inconsistent performance, time should be spent with a sports psychologist to explore when the problem started and work towards overcoming the mental blocks. However, several factors typically come into play when an athlete is having trouble maintaining optimal performance in game situations.
There are several components of fear that can impact performance
Fear of Failure - The athlete may be fearful that their performance will result in mistakes thus causing them to lose the calm/relaxed attitude, and become tight in their performance, which ultimately leaves them susceptible to more mistakes.
Fear of Embarrassment - If an athlete is afraid of judgement, they become focused on making mistakes, thus causing them to lose the necessary present focused mindset necessary for success.
- If an athlete's confidence waivers, they will not be able to perform at their optimal level because at the root of the matter, they are not trusting in their skills. When the pressure of a game situation is taken away, the athlete does not experience the second guessing of their skills and again rely on their muscle memory, thus allowing their performance to rise.
Place too many demands
It is important for athletes to have goals. Their goals should be attainable, but also a goal to strive for, not a demand. When an athlete makes their goals expectations for every performance, they don't allow room for any error. If the athlete becomes fixated on their past mistakes, again their attention is not where it needs to be, and they can't perform in the moment.
Another factor that comes into play when there are too many demands placed on the athlete, there is room for frustration to build and disrupt the athlete's ability to stay loose and trust in their instincts.
If an athlete is experiencing any of the above issues, it is time to seek treatment from someone who can help them to push through their mental blocks to even out their performance between practice/game or even between games. There is no need to suffer through inconsistent performance hoping for a different outcome without making the necessary changes. There are techniques to help athletes overcome all the different types of mental blocks. Don't be afraid to seek help if you are struggling- it does not make you weak! Athletes who seek out help are stronger for making sure nothing stands in the way of their success!
At MVP Mentality Sports Psychology we have been helping athletes overcome fear, anxiety, self talk, and injury recover for over 10 years. If you or your child believe that you could be underperforming let one of our licensed clinical psychologist work with you through the process. Contact MVP Mentality today and become the athlete you have always dreamed of!