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Bad performances can linger for a long time with some athletes |31 October 2019

We can probably relate to how profoundly a bad game, routine or competition can hurt future performances...

There are many examples in sports where just one bad performance can set off a domino effect...

A football player who misses several clear chances to score in one match can find himself in a slump over the next several games...

Or a tennis player who sees his ranking drops due to a few bad matches can have difficulty getting back on track…

Or a gymnast who falls off the beam, which is normally her best event, can suddenly see uncharacteristic mistakes in other events.

Why does it seem that a one bad performance can snowball and affect future competitions?

This effect is not the fault of lack of skills. One bad game doesn’t rob you of your athletic talents and abilities. The issue at play is often a “memory” issue.

Follow this logic for a moment...

You have practiced, prepared and trained for a certain competition that goes a bit awry...

You make a few mistakes or just are not fully on top of your game and you are devastated by the result. Now, your memory kicks in.

You can’t seem to shake the memories of that bad performance. The memories of that performance seem to haunt you. As you prepare for the next competition, these bad memories move to the forefront of your mind.

As the next competition commences, those images are replayed over and over in your mind stirring negative emotions and hurting your confidence.

Many athletes have trouble bouncing back when they carry the weight of “bad memories” or negative images of previous performances.

In professional and amateur sports, top athletes talk about the importance of having a “short memory” or forgetting about a bad performance and moving on to the next competition.

After the game, you should talk about the importance of erasing the memory of the defeat and focusing on the next game.

Smart advice is replaying a bad game in your mind only contributes to further performances.

Moving on from a bad performance requires that you focus forward and not relive the past.

Moving On from a bad performance.

Burn the film. Instead of replaying the images of mistakes and losses, visualise yourself performing successfully in your next competition.

Visualisation helps you focus on performing well in future competitions rather than allowing memories of past performances dominate your mind.

Strive to use the past competition as a learning experience. What can you improve in the next week of practice based on your last competition?


Maurice Denys (Mr)                                                                                                              

Certified Mental Coach (CMC)

S.N.H.S.Dip (Sports Psychology)                                                  

S.N.H.S.Dip (Life coaching)


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