Do you take risks to help you succeed in your sport?
Does fear or making mistakes or lack of confidence with a new skill prevent you from taking risks?
We’re not talking about unhealthy or dangerous risks, but those tough challenges that push you towards greater heights…
Risk-taking means pushing your limits, getting out of your comfort zone, and setting higher but achievable goals.
You will eventually plateau when you refrain from taking risks in competitions or breaking out of your comfort zone in training. Plateauing causes athletes to feel frustrated, less confident, and stuck in performance ruts.
Athletes shy away from taking risks for several reasons:
- Fear of failure – “If I mess up, it means I’m a failure.”
- Perfectionism – “If I can’t perform it perfectly, then I don’t want to attempt it at all.”
- Need for control – “I’m not sure what will happen or if I will fail if I try something new.”
- Fear of success – “If I succeed, others will expect more of me.”
- Lack of confidence – “I’m not good enough to achieve anything significant in my sport.”
For example, a swimmer may risk going all in to make a national cut in the 100 freestyle. The reward would be achieving a personal best and their first-ever senior national cut.
However, not reaching the cutoff time could lead a swimmer to believe they are not good enough or are a failure.
Holding back will leave you feeling regretful and disappointed…
Why should you take calculated risks?
- Helps you understand what it takes to get to the next level
- Helps you approach future risks with confidence
- Provides you with positive feedback to succeed in the future
- Breaks you out of your comfort zone
- Leads to growth, improvement, and achievement
For example, American figure skater Ilia Malinin, 17, landed the second-ever quadruple axel in competition at the 2022 Skate America. The difficult jump helped Malinin earn his first gold medal and become the youngest men’s champion in the event’s history.
Some of the best skaters in the world haven’t even attempted the jump in competition. Yet, Malinin took the risk, and the reward was well worth the effort.
MALININ: “This morning, I wasn’t really sure if I would attempt it or not, but I think that it came over my mind that everyone’s watching, I have to go for this, and I went for it, and I landed it.”
When taking risks, you might feel your self-image is threatened if you fail. However, when you take calculated risks and work towards your goals, you will more often than not succeed.
The reward for challenging yourself is breaking new barriers and accomplishing meaningful goals, which can give you a sense of pride and confidence. The rewards are clearly well worth going for it.
Before practicing or competing, ask yourself, “Would I rather play it safe and achieve average results or continue to push and increase my chances of success?”
Define the behaviors for you that would help you take more risks when you compete. Set these as objectives when you compete.
Playing it safe is the enemy of reaching your potential. Achieving true success requires taking calculated risks. Remember, the reward is well worth the risk.
Related Sports Psychology Articles
- The Mindset to Perform at a Higher Level
- Having Fun While Performing at Your Best
- The Importance of Mental Toughness
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