As a mental toughness trainer who has worked with thousands of athletes, youth and adult, by far the biggest problem is fear of failure. I have looked at and examined this concept and the word and have determined it to be non-useful for sports and performing and therefore, my definition of it is:

“A destructive word OTHERS use to describe events when they don’t achieve their goal or out- come.”

Here are three simple strategies that you can use to overcome your fear of failure:


In other words, I teach that there is NO SUCH THING AS FAILURE. It doesn’t exist except as a useless story in your mind. (get rid of the idea of failure and you get rid of the fear of it).

It’s destructive to all athlete’s confidence, young and old, and it’s completely unnecessary to use the word for any situation or circumstance. I teach my young athletes to use deadly accurate descriptions of events that allow for growth and improvement, not destruction.

For example:

– Sample sports event:

A batter strikes out in the last inning with 2 runners on base, 2 outs and down by 1.

– Destructive description of event using “failed”

“I failed myself, my coach and my team by striking out in the last inning with 2 runners on base and down by 1 in the most important game of the year and I cost us the game.”

– More useful description of the event:

“At the end of the game, I struck out and was proud of myself for standing in there and taking good cuts.”

Notice that there is no need for the word “failure” in any of that useful description.


Decision to be resilient, no matter what. When an outcome is not achieved and disappointment and other emotions follow, there’s 2 basic ways kids (and all humans) respond:

  • Wallow in victimhood
  • Learn from the event and come back stronger and smarter

Resilience, or the ability to come back from adversity or “get back on the horse after you fall off” is paramount to building confidence. Confidence cannot be built in the presence of any fear. When you come back or conquer anything difficult, you don’t fear it any more. This applies to all of us. Each of us has to make a decision, in advance, that we will always choose option #2 above. This is what really destroys fear of failure.


Create a MANTRA or LABEL about yourself that you can believe and with lots of repetitions, sink it into your subconscious. Mine has always been:

“I’ll figure it out”

With my boys, growing up, I repeatedly told them our family motto is:

“Things always work out for us”

Examples of labels you can call yourself or someone you care about:

  • Comeback specialist
  • Never give up
  • Lightning
  • Baseball machine

Remember when Muhammad Ali said:

“I am the greatest!”

What most people don’t know is the rest of the story. He also said:

“I am the greatest…and I said that before I knew I was.”

I’m Craig Sigl
Your Mental Toughness Trainer