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Training For Perfection Can Be A Real Problem

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Most coaches, parents, and athletes are often in disbelief when I describe the likelihood that they are setting their team or athletes up for a failed and anxious experience when they train for Perfection. They will argue that training for a perfect swing, throw, or play is the only way to WIN. Some will shake their heads and scoff at the idea that Perfection is actually an unobtainable goal, which makes it more likely that the athlete will fall short of these expectations come game time. Athletes will also stand their ground that demanding anything less than Perfection is the equivalent of an excuse or copout.


Well, my question is if training for Perfection is so successful, then why are so many children, adolescents, and young adults ending their athletic careers because the fear of failure outweighs the fun of being in sports? If training for Perfection is the only way to go, then how do we tell a team after their first loss of the season that the year isn't over?


Training for Perfection supports the overall belief that a well-trained and dedicated athlete can and "should" be able to perform without errors. These thoughts represent a type of "All or Nothing" thinking that often leads to negative self-evaluations and conditional self-esteem. If an athlete has too many "Nothing" performances the results are usually depressed or anxious symptoms. When left unchanged, the athlete and team will commonly develop a fear that they will surely perform below these "Perfect" expectations. This fear becomes so strong that the athlete and team will either sabotage their training or competitions, suffer through the competition with profound anxiety, and/or drop of our sports entirely.

Parents and Coaches, there is another answer! Training for Excellence is the optimal philosophy within the world of sports and competition. The difference may seem trivial, but the impact to performance is significant. Rather than expecting a flawless performance, athletes who train for Excellence are demanding that they train and complete to the level of their personal best for that moment in time. This shift in thinking allows for athletes to strive for ideal standards while recognizing that environment, injury, nutrition, human error, and other things outside of their control may impact performances. Striving for Excellence is aspirational, encourages self-reflection, acknowledges accomplishments when appropriate despite performance outcomes, and is associated with a greater commitment to long-term sports play.

For more information about training for Excellence Contact Dr. Casey at

Last Updated ( Tuesday, December 08 2009 15:54 )