Performance Errors & Setbacks

Bounce Back

Dropped fly balls, missed free throws, starting line jumps, and so many other mistakes happen. While playing sports it is guaranteed that errors will take place, but the positive in this fact is that not all errors are catastrophic. Accepting the emotions that accompany performance, both positive and negative, is vital for athletes to play at their optimal level and fully focus on the present moment no matter how uncomfortable it may be. 

Athletes must learn to be comfortable with uncomfortable situations. Playing with pressure and stress. Crowds shouting. Tied ball game with only seconds left and you just missed your first free throw. How quickly an athlete bounces back from an error or setback can determine whether or not they shake off the error or let it lead to a performance breakdown. Do emotions get the best of them after errors or do they begin problem-solving? 

After performance errors athletes will 1) re-play the error or situation and either reinforce and dwell on it, or mentally correct the error (Lodato, 2021). Does the athlete’s performance spiral downward or do they accept and adjust after the error? 2) Fix the error by pre-playing the next opportunity. After an error, take in the needed information and adjust accordingly. Was the free throw short? Did I follow through? What were my eyes focusing on? Determine what needs to change before the next shot. 3) Return to the present moment and be ready for the next play (Lodato, 2021). It is impossible to play from the past or future. Playing in the present moment is key. 

An athlete might choose to mentally correct the error by implementing positive self-talk phrases such as “fix it”, visualizing himself correcting the error and then returning to the moment ready to move forward to the next play while having a handle on the setback (Lodato, 2021).

As athletes develop routines they must make sure they are repeatable. Two keys that are vital are to breathe and remain present.

Athletes must learn to be comfortable with uncomfortable situations. By establishing routines athletes can develop a sense of control within the uncomfortable situations and find comfort in the familiarity of a routine. As stated previously, errors and setbacks are inevitable, but they do not have to be catastrophic to performance. If you’d like to learn more about refocus routines that help you move past errors and take back control when things may not be going your way, get in contact today!


Don’t let your worst enemy live between your own two ears.”

-Laird Hamilton