Fear of Failure

Matt - Latrobe, Pennsylvania
Entered on March 13, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

Fear of Failure

It’s the bottom of the ninth and the game is on the line. I wait on deck praying that one of my teammates will put an end to the contest before I am called upon. My stomach tosses and turns as I await my fate; my prayers fall on deaf ears. With two outs and a runner in scoring position, I find the game resting on my shoulders. As I reluctantly pace towards the plate, it is clear that I am petrified. I step in the box; I begin the breath heavily, and my fingers squeeze the bat like that of a boa constrictor on its prey. Negative thoughts rush through my head, “What if I strike out? What will my teammates think? What will my coach do? My dad is going to be livid.” Before I have time to finish my thoughts, the pitch is on its way.

“He who fears being conquered is sure of defeat.” The quote, by Napoleon Bonaparte, states that if you fear failure, you have already failed. This was the mentality I dealt with for a better half of my entire adolescent life. Simply writing about my dismal attitude makes me wonder why I didn’t hang up the cleats right then and there. It wasn’t until my early days of high school did I mature enough to outgrow this talent restricting fear.

For athletes, the fear of failure is an everyday circumstance. In many cases it is difficult to determine what drives athletes; a will to succeed, or a fear of consequence. Competition is the key ingredient on any team; one poor plate appearance can cause players to catch splinters for quite some time. I constantly dwelled on the negatives until my best friend, who plays soccer at the University of Richmond, sat me down and put things in perspective. He asked why I spent so much time playing baseball if I didn’t truly love it; after all it is just a game. I had finally realized that my fears had taken all enjoyment out of the game I loved.

From that point on I became a completely different athlete. I loved the game again, baseball became a rush. There were moments of failure, but I was addicted to success. I relished being in the spotlight and wanted the game in my hands. Hard work finally started paying off simply because of a mental alteration.

I can honestly say that without changing my outlook on the game, I would not be where I am today. To this day I want to be up with men on base, I want the ball to be hit at me, and I want to be pitching in the ninth inning of tight ballgames. The fear of failure is countered by the words of Robert Kennedy, “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” This is the quote I live by; every time I enter the classroom, walk in the weight room, and sprint onto the field.