Avoiding Mental Sabotage

Mental sabotage can ruin your training and performance before it starts. If you can improve your results without training more, where would you start?

3 Ways Athletes Sabotage Their Own Success and How to Overcome For Success
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

You might look at your mental approach to training and performing—does your mindset help or sabotage your success? Do you understand how your mental game is causing blocks and problems for your performance?

The attitudes, beliefs, and mindsets that many athletes take into their practices and performances often damage and undermine their success.

The first step to improve your mental approach to training and performance is to understand how you might sabotage your success with doubt, high expectations, perfectionism, and other mental blocks.

Here are 6 costly mistakes athletes make with their pre-session and pre-competition mental preparation.


How and why do overly high expectations limit you? If you don’t achieve your pre-performance expectations during the competition, you’ll start to doubt yourself or become frustrated and discouraged,. What expectations actually do, is set you up for failure before you even start.

Expectations are usually about outcomes, such as achieving a personal point best, a placement, or having a clean performance.  Creating goals that give direction and motivation like a clean program, landing that triple, standing on a podium, or becoming national or world champion are great lofty goals and we need those but often and in many cases, expectations cause competitors to focus only on outcomes and feel more pressure to achieve them, to not fail, which can turn into pre-competition anxiety or worry.


Self-confidence is an athlete’s best friend. If you have a high level of belief in your ability, it’s hard to feel anxious. Unfortunately, many competitors fail to take an active part in building solid confidence. They fail to take full responsibility for feeling confident on the day of competition or even during practice and leave it to chance and hope that it’s a good day.

If so, then you are leaving confidence to chance, immediate results, or external factors.

How do you know your mindset needs work?

  • Are you unsure how you will perform before a big competition?
  • Do you doubt your ability to perform the way you have trained?
  • Do you wait to feel confident in your skills only when you have a good practice, warm-up, or start your program?

You don’t want confidence to be shaken by a bad warm-up or a sudden change in your schedule or the flight that you compete in. You want to fuel your confidence—just like you fuel your body—before you perform, not reacting to what’s happening either in your daily practices or during the competition.


Every athlete no matter what level has pre-competition nerves. These are the feelings of excitement prior to the start of a competition. However, some athletes turn those nerves into performance anxiety. And performance anxiety will tighten you up and make you hesitate because you can’t trust in your plan or skills.

Pre-competition nerves are a natural part of your sport, but pre-competition performance anxiety will cause most athletes tension, and begin the “what if” thoughts about their performance and ultimately they are unable to perform up to their ability.

Experienced athletes welcome pre-competition jitters. These pre-competition butterflies give energy, help produce that optimal state of mental alertness and excitement, which can boost focus.

Your ability to embrace those “jitters” is critical to having a good start and consistent performance. Many athletes will interpret pre-competition jitters as anxiety, that something is wrong, causing doubt in ability, distracted focus, and “what if” thinking.

These are just a few areas of mental sabotage that happen when competitors fail to train their minds. Pre-season is an excellent time to learn the necessary tools to manage out of control emotions, overcome performance anxiety, and build that unshakeable confidence that you need to consistently perform your best.

Stay connected with me on social media and have a listen to my podcast on Spotify “The Anti-Fragile Mindset”.

Contact me and learn how to silence that inner meanie and learn how to have positive self-talk and build your confidence to become a Fearless Anti-Fragile Athlete!

Listen to “The Anti-Fragile Mindset” Podcast!

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