How to Overcome Failure in High Pressure Moments

22 Jan 2024
3 min read
Author – Vedika Jogani & Ryan Miller

A recent graduate from Ithaca College with a Master’s degree in Sports and Exercise Science, specializing in Mental Performance, Vedika Jogani is OMP’s Product and Content Manager. During her studies, Vedika worked closely with Ithaca’s Men’s and Women’s Tennis Teams and Women’s Volleyball Team as their Mental Performance Consultant. Vedika is currently completing her Certified Mental Performance Consultant Certification.

Ryan Miller is an award-winning Journalist, Broadcaster and Photographer, and OMP’s Head of Content.

Sport is cruel.  

For Tyler Bass he’s feeling that cruelty more than anyone right now after he missed a field goal that could have sent the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City AFC Divisional playoff game to overtime.   

Sure, the Chiefs could have scored from the resulting kick-off but we’re not here to talk about ‘what-ifs’, we’re looking at the facts.  

So here they are: With two minutes to play, Bass’ attempt from 44 yards out went right, meaning the Chiefs gained possession, got a first down, took a knee twice to run down the clock and made their way through to the AFC Championship Game.  

A quick look on social media is enough to see that Bass is getting some serious heat from football fans (especially Bills fans) and memes about his miss are flooding social media feeds.  

Failure is something that happens often in sport, but when you have a massive game on the line that failure can feel larger than other.  

Athletes in situations like these can feel guilty, a sense of loss, sadness, questioning what could have been and so much more. 

So how do athletes, elite or otherwise, deal with failures like Bass’ and come back better than before?  

Normalize Failure and Reframe the Narrative

Athletes and coaches are encouraged to shift their perspective on failure. Rather than perceiving it as a setback, it should be embraced as a crucial steppingstone on the path to success.

Approaching failure as a valuable learning experience, rather than a hindrance, empowers athletes to effectively deal with their mistakes and propel themselves toward improvement. 

Maintain a Growth Mindset

Cultivate a mindset that perceives setbacks as temporary and opportunities for future success.

Remind athletes that even the greatest sports icons faced defeats, but their ability to bounce back and persevere ultimately defined their careers.

A growth mindset fosters resilience, encouraging individuals to focus on development rather than fixed outcomes 

Reflection on Emotions

Acknowledging that failure can have an emotional toll on athletes and learning to express their feelings either through conversations with teammates, coaches or sports psychologists.

Emphasize that these emotions are natural, but do not define an athlete’s self-worth.

Developing coping strategies like mindfulness or visualization can assist in managing negative emotions and promoting a positive mindset.

Setting Realistic Goals

Reassessing and setting realistic short-term and long-term goals is a common coping mechanism.

By breaking down larger objectives into smaller, achievable milestones, athletes can regain a sense of control and work towards continuous improvement. 

Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques

Incorporate mindfulness and relaxation techniques to manage stress and anxiety.

Techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and meditation can enhance focus, calm the mind, and improve emotional regulation. 

Thankfully it seems Bass’ teammates are there to rally around him.
Bills Quarter Back Josh Allen said it was the team that failed, not Bass.

“We got to be there for him, because again, we execute a couple plays prior, probably signing a different tune right now,” he said after the game.



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