How to Overcome Failure in Sports? BONUS TIP!

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Have you ever come across failure in your athletics career? If so then how did you take it? Did it thrive you to do better or you ended up under a blanket and wishing to quit? In this article, we show you that failure in sports can be a good thing and how to overcome it.
how to overcome failure in sports

BONUS TIP! We have interviewed worlds one of the best javelin thrower Magnus Kirt and asked him, how failures have affected his career and his results.

Fear – one of athletes biggest enemy

As an athlete, it’s normal to have fear, but only to a certain limit. When you let your fear get out of hands, it becomes your biggest enemy and it will definitely have an impact on your result.

It’s most likely that a lot of us have experienced this at one point. The fear of failing can be quite damaging – it can affect your motivation to keep on working and you’ll just end up doing nothing.

But when given fear enough power to control your moving forward process, we’re most likely to experience failure. 

Everyone has fears, some have fears of failing their country, some fear to disappoint their coaches or family, don’t let that stop you.

How failure in sports can help you in the future

If you won’t let failure control your life, it can actually help you in the future.

Here are some pointers on what to bear in mind when you’ve experienced some failure in sports and find it hard to get back on track.

There is no such thing as perfection

Never expect to succeed at everything you set out to do, your success can come but don’t count on it. When you’re setting your expectations always leave room for failure.

For example in the IAAF World Championships in London, Usain Bolt was the favorite going into men’s 100m race. Surprisingly he finished third and with that he ended his 45-race winning streak.

Although Usain Bolt is well known as one of the greatest sprinters of all time and he is still a human being and as much as we all hate to admit it, we’re not perfect.

Perfection doesn’t exist, even for someone as talented as Usain Bolt.

Don’t give up

When your career is taking a lot longer than expected to take off don’t let some challenges stop you from reaching your goals.

Michael Jordan, known as the best basketball player of all time, has come across some obstacles.

Even after reaching the highest levels of professional basketball, Jordan still faced some defeat and setbacks.

He said: “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career,” following “I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

If Michael Jordan would’ve let all these missed shots affect him, he would’ve never become one of the best basketball players there are.

Stay positive

It’s all about the mindset you have towards failure if you’re looking at it in as something that will help you grow you’ll be successful.

Instead of letting failure defeat you, you can learn from it and improve. Failure in sports is not a negative thing.

It’s your mindset that can make it one, so look at failure as a positive thing not negative.

Believe in yourself

You must have faith in yourself. There will always be people who don’t believe in you and with that, they try to bring you down.

You definitely need to learn how to rely on yourself to reach your goals. No matter what challenges might come along the way. 

For example, take Muhammad Ali. He was a great boxer, but he didn’t start as one of the best, he had to get better over the years.

Ali has taken some wins against opponents who outclassed him, solely by his mindset.

He went to the fight thinking “I can do it”, he’s confidence was borderline arrogant, but he never stopped believing in himself so that what helped him become one of the best.

Learn from your mistakes

We all make mistakes, it’s inevitable. A big part of moving on from failure is to accept it and learn from your mistakes.

Take what you’ve learned and applied it with you on your journey to becoming a better athlete.

Know when to change direction

Success in one area doesn’t always transfer to another. It is very common amongst athletes to start their coaching career after they’ve retired from being a professional athlete.

But coaching isn’t as easy as it sounds. Some people are born to be coaches and people who have to work really hard to become one.

In this case, it’s really important to know your personality and if you can actually manage this profession.

Keep in mind – failure in sports is a part of a success

Your mindset and confidence play a HUGE part in overcoming any type of failure.

You can lose many games in a row or miss all of these important shots as Jordan did. Important is how you recover from it. It will determine your future in that sport.

Acknowledge the fact that you came across failure, think positively about it and then correct those mistakes you made and you’ll become better.

BONUS! A short interview with Magnus Kirt – one of the best javelin throwers in the world!

Magnus Kirt is an Estonian javelin thrower. He’s also one of the best javelin throwers in the world right now, with a personal record of 90.61 meters (Estonian National record).

His journey as an athlete has been amazing and kind of a rollercoaster. He has been to 3 World Championships and one Olympic Games.

In the World Championships last autumn in Doha, Kirt injured his shoulder in the final during his 5th attempt. He came second overall with the result of 86.21. 

Magnus Kirt throwing a javelin during World Championship in Doha
Magnus Kirt during World Championship in Doha. Photo by Tairo Lutter

Magnus, does failure have a bigger impact on you now, than it was when you had just started your athletic career?

I think there’s definitely more depending on it than it was when I was younger, but the feeling of failure will still remain the same. Just your goals get bigger.

How big of a role has fear played in your failures?

Definitely, in some competitions, I haven’t performed the greatest due to being too nervous and just not being focused enough in the moment.

How much has a failure in sports affected your motivation?

Like the saying,  failure is our greatest teacher in life and you must gather all the wisdom and motivation out of it to avoid similar failures in the future.

What has helped you the most in the process of overcoming failure?

I think for me, success has helped a lot when it comes to overcoming failure. When I’ve made all these corrections after a “bad” competition, it’s the best way to overcome failure.

How do you handle the pressure/stress that comes with every competition?

I have found my rhythm that makes it easier and also I think experience has helped a lot as well.

How did your recent injury affect your motivation?

I believe it had a positive effect on me. I was put in a situation I’ve never been in and coming out of it was a huge challenge for me.

How many times have you thought about quitting?

That kind of thought has never occurred to me.

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