(Original text slightly adapted to apply specifically to the sport of gymnastics)

by Dr. Patrick Cohn

6 Fears that Haunt Gymnasts

Are You (or your gymnasts) Afraid to Fail?

More and more athletes I work with on the mental game come to me with fear of failure.

Fear and fear of failure is a constant source of stress or anxiety that sabotages athletes’ mental game and performance.

What Is Fear of Failure for Gymnasts?

In gymnastics, most of the fear athletes have is based on their perception of the importance of a performance or meet AND what they assume others think about their performance.

Most of the time, a gymnast’s fear is about avoiding poor results – whether prior to or during a performance.

Gymnasts often fear the negative consequences of a poor or less than perfect performance. Gymnasts worry about letting their team or a coach down. They worry about disappointing a parent or not performing up to a parent’s expectations.

They worry about many things that are often not under their direct or immediate control and a lot of this worry is unnecessary.

What Are The Common Types of Fears For Gymnasts?

It’s not enough to know that you have fear of failure when competing. What’s more important is to know what type of fear holds you back.

Fear of failure is often related to what you assume others think about you and how you think they might change their opinion of you if you fail, which we call social approval.

Here’s a list of the most common fears that hold gymnasts back from performing at their peak:

  • Fear of losing a meet – you badly want to win and are afraid you will not win.
  • Fear of embarrassment – you are afraid to embarrass yourself in front of others if you don’t perform well.
  • Fears of letting others down – you do not want to let others down such as a coach, parent, or teammates.
  • Fear of putting in the effort and not ever getting the “pay off” or not performing to your potential. You don’t want your hard work, talent and long practices to be for not.
  • Fear of not performing up to others’ expectations – you worry about not meeting others’ expectations for you, such as a parent.
  • Fear of making mistakes and not performing perfectly after having worked so hard at it.

All of these fears will surely destroy your confidence. If you are afraid to make a mistake, worried about embarrassing yourself, or thinking about what will happen if you lose… then you’re not thinking of all the reasons you have to be successful!


Workbook and CD Program to Help You Overcome Fear of Failure:

 Overcoming your fears is imperative to being a great athlete.

Check out our best program to help athletes to perform fearlessly.

The Fearless Athlete – A 14 Day Plan for Unbeatable Trust

Your Mental Game Coach,

Dr. Patrick Cohn

p.s. I help athletes overcome fear of failure every day with one-on-one mental coaching. Learn more here:

One-one-one mental training – In Person, Phone, or Skype from anywhere in the world!