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Break the Chain of Frustration

When you get frustrated, you lose any chance of achieving your sports goals.

Source: CC0

Frustration is typically defined an emotional reaction that arises when the path toward a goal is blocked and can’t be readily cleared. Common sources of frustration for athletes include not being able to master new technique quickly, having a poor result, or not achieving a deeply held goal. In fact, I think that frustration may be the single biggest psychological obstacle to improving as an athlete, whether in terms of conditioning, technique, or tactics.

Frustration actually starts out as a positive emotion because it motivates you to clear the path toward your goal. Unfortunately, increased effort, often involving doing the same thing more and harder, usually doesn’t result in that path being cleared. The outcome is that you often devolve into what I call the negative emotional chain, in which you go frustration to anger and, finally, to despair where you just give up because nothing you do is clearing that path toward your goal.

My seventh of 12 vlog segments devoted to athletes and coaches describes the specific steps you can take to stop frustration before it overwhelms you and ruins your day, whether training or in competition:

  • Step away from the situation that is causing your frustration. When you create physical distance from the cause, you also create emotional distance which results in your frustration diminishing.
  • Breathe and relax your body. Frustration causes physical tension which will, if allowed to continue, prevent you from performing well and removing that obstacle to your goals.
  • Get perspective. Recognize that improving as an athlete takes time and requires patience. If you know it will take a long time, you’re less likely to get frustrated when you don’t get better as quickly as you want.
  • Identify the cause of the frustration. If you don’t know what has led to your frustration, it will still be there when you return to the situation in which you first experienced frustration.
  • Look for a solution. If you know the problem, you can find a solution that will alleviate the problem and, as a result, remove the barrier that caused the frustration in the first place.

To learn more about how to overcome the frustration you feel in practice and competitions in your sport, watch: Prime Sport vlog segment #7.

Want to get your mind in its best shape possible so you can perform your best when it matters most? Take a look at my online courses for athletes and coaches.