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Tips to Overcome the Fear of Failure
in High School Soccer

Young high school soccer player stressed sitting on bleacher by side of soccer field with hand on her head, backpack in front of her.


As a female high school soccer player, the fear of failure can be a formidable opponent. Whether it’s missing a crucial goal, making a critical mistake on the field, or facing tough competition, the fear of failure can loom large and affect your performance.


However, it’s essential to understand that fear is a common emotion in sports, and learning to overcome it is a crucial part of becoming a successful athlete.


In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore various strategies to help you conquer your fear of failure, stay motivated, and continually improve your soccer skills.

Table of Contents

Understanding the Fear of Failure in Soccer

Before we delve into strategies for overcoming the fear of failure, let’s first understand what this fear entails. The fear of failure in soccer can manifest in several ways:

  1. Performance Anxiety: Many soccer players, especially high school athletes, experience performance anxiety. This anxiety can stem from the fear of not meeting expectations, making mistakes, or disappointing teammates, coaches, and themselves.

  2. Dwelling on Mistakes: Soccer players often replay their mistakes in their minds, leading to self-doubt and decreased confidence. This constant self-criticism can hinder future performances.

  3. Loss of Motivation: When the fear of failure takes hold, it can sap your motivation to practice and play. You might avoid challenging situations or risk-taking on the field, which can hinder your growth as a player.

  4. Negative Self-Talk: Negative self-talk, where you constantly criticize yourself, is a common symptom of the fear of failure. This can erode your self-esteem and hinder your performance.

Now that we’ve identified the fear of failure’s manifestations in soccer, let’s explore strategies to overcome it.

Reframe Failure as a Learning Opportunity


One of the most effective ways to combat the fear of failure in soccer is to reframe it as a learning opportunity. Instead of dreading mistakes, view them as valuable experiences that can help you grow as a player. Here’s how to do it:

1. Embrace Mistakes as Part of the Game


Understand that every soccer player, no matter how skilled, makes mistakes. Even professional athletes make errors on the field. Accepting this reality can reduce the fear associated with failure.

Example: Imagine you missed a crucial penalty kick that could have won the game. Instead of dwelling on the missed opportunity, focus on what you can learn from it. Analyze your technique, and practice penalty kicks to improve for the next game.

2. Set Realistic Goals

Setting realistic goals for yourself in soccer is essential. Unrealistic expectations can intensify the fear of failure. Break down your long-term goals into smaller, achievable milestones.

Example: Instead of aiming to become the top scorer in your high school league right away, set a goal to improve your shooting accuracy by a certain percentage over a few weeks.

3. Maintain a Growth Mindset

A growth mindset means believing that your abilities and intelligence can be developed through dedication and hard work. Embrace challenges and see setbacks as opportunities for growth rather than signs of incompetence.

Example: After a challenging match where you struggled with ball control, remind yourself that with consistent practice, your ball control skills can improve.

Tips for Soccer Players to Overcome Fear of Failure


Now that we’ve discussed the importance of reframing failure, let’s explore practical tips that can help you overcome the fear of failure in soccer:

1. Develop a Pre-Game Routine

Establishing a pre-game routine can help reduce anxiety and boost your confidence before a match. Your routine might include physical warm-ups, mental visualization, and positive affirmations.

Example: Before each game, take 10 minutes to visualize yourself successfully making plays, scoring goals, and contributing to your team’s success. This can help build your self-belief.

2. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness techniques, such as deep breathing exercises and meditation, can help you stay present and calm during games. These practices can be particularly effective in managing performance anxiety.

Example: If you start feeling anxious during a match, take a moment to focus on your breathing. Inhale deeply for a count of four, hold for four, and exhale for four. This can help calm your nerves.

3. Set Short-Term Goals

In addition to your long-term soccer goals, set short-term goals for each game or practice session. These goals should be specific, measurable, and achievable within the given time frame.

Example: Before a practice session, set a goal to complete a certain number of successful passes or to make accurate crosses from the wing.

4. Seek Support and Feedback

Don’t be afraid to seek support from your coaches, teammates, or even a sports psychologist. They can provide valuable feedback, guidance, and strategies for managing the fear of failure.

Example: If you’re struggling with free-kick accuracy, ask your coach for tips and drills to improve this aspect of your game.

5. Celebrate Small Wins

Celebrate your achievements, no matter how small they may seem. Recognizing your progress and successes can boost your confidence and motivate you to keep pushing forward.

Example: If you successfully defended against a skilled opponent during a game, acknowledge and appreciate your defensive prowess, even if your team didn’t win.

How to Improve Performance in Soccer by Overcoming Fear of Failure


Overcoming the fear of failure isn’t just about managing anxiety; it’s also about enhancing your performance on the field. Here are strategies to help you do just that:

1. Develop Mental Toughness

Mental toughness is a key component of peak performance in soccer. It involves staying focused, confident, and resilient, even in the face of adversity.

Example: During a challenging match, maintain a positive attitude and remind yourself that you’ve trained for moments like these. Mental toughness can help you perform at your best under pressure.

2. Analyze Your Game

After each game, take the time to analyze your performance objectively. Identify areas where you excelled and areas that need improvement. This self-assessment can guide your practice and development.

Example: Watch game footage and take notes on your positioning, decision-making, and communication with teammates. Use this analysis to create a plan for improvement.

3. Focus on the Process, Not Just the Outcome

While winning is undoubtedly important, focusing solely on the outcome can increase the fear of failure. Shift your focus to the process of playing well, making smart decisions, and executing skills correctly.

Example: Instead of fixating on winning the game, concentrate on playing your best, making accurate passes, and executing set pieces effectively. When you focus on the process, the outcome often takes care of itself.

4. Build Resilience

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from setbacks and maintain your motivation and confidence. Developing resilience is crucial for soccer players, as you’ll inevitably face challenges and failures.

Example: If your team loses a match, use it as motivation to work even harder in practice and come back stronger in the next game. Resilience can turn failure into a stepping stone to success.

How to Stay Positive and Motivated in Soccer After Failure


Maintaining a positive and motivated mindset after failure can be challenging but is essential for your long-term success. Here’s how to stay upbeat and driven:

1. Surround Yourself with Supportive People

Surrounding yourself with supportive teammates, coaches, and friends can make a significant difference in your attitude and motivation. Positive relationships can help you stay focused on your goals.

Example: Seek out teammates who uplift and encourage you, and reciprocate by offering support and motivation in return.

2. Practice Self-Compassion

Be kind to yourself, especially after a setback. Acknowledge your feelings of disappointment but avoid harsh self-criticism. Treat yourself with the same compassion you’d offer a friend.

Example: If you miss a crucial shot, tell yourself, “I gave it my best effort, and I’ll learn from this experience to do better next time.”

3. Set New Challenges

Setting new challenges and goals can reignite your motivation and drive after a failure. It keeps you focused on improvement rather than dwelling on past mistakes.

Example: If you struggled with dribbling in your last game, set a goal to improve your dribbling skills and challenge yourself to successfully execute new moves in future matches.

4. Stay Inspired

Stay inspired by watching professional soccer matches, reading about successful players’ journeys, or attending local games. Inspiration can fuel your determination to excel in the sport.

Example: Attend a local professional soccer game or watch highlights of your favorite soccer players to reignite your passion for the sport.

How to Handle Mistakes in Soccer and Not Let Them Affect Your Performance


Handling mistakes effectively is a critical skill for soccer players. Here are strategies to ensure that mistakes don’t negatively impact your performance:

1. Stay Present

After making a mistake, it’s easy to dwell on it and lose focus on the current game. Practice staying present in the moment, concentrating on the next play rather than ruminating on past errors.

Example: If you lose possession of the ball, immediately shift your focus to defensive positioning or regaining possession, rather than dwelling on the turnover.

2. Develop Short-Term Memory

Developing a short-term memory for mistakes can be beneficial. Learn from your errors but quickly let them go to prevent them from affecting your confidence and performance.

Example: If you miss a shot on goal, acknowledge what went wrong and use that information to improve, but don’t carry the disappointment into the next play.

3. Communicate with Your Team

Effective communication with your teammates can help mitigate the impact of mistakes. Clear communication fosters teamwork and ensures everyone is on the same page, reducing the chances of errors.

Example: If you make a defensive mistake, communicate with your fellow defenders to ensure they are aware of the situation and can provide support.

How to Bounce Back from Failure in Soccer


Bouncing back from failure is a skill that sets successful soccer players apart. Here’s how to recover from setbacks and continue progressing in your soccer journey:

1. Maintain Perspective

Remind yourself that a single failure or loss does not define your entire soccer career. Maintain a long-term perspective and focus on your overall growth and development.

Example: If your team loses a crucial match, remember that it’s just one game in a season. Use it as motivation to improve for the upcoming games.

2. Learn from Failure

Failure is an excellent teacher. Analyze your mistakes and setbacks, and use them as valuable learning experiences to become a better player.

Example: If you consistently miss passes, practice passing drills and work on your accuracy and technique until you become proficient.

3. Stay Committed

Resist the urge to give up or lose enthusiasm after a failure. Stay committed to your goals and continue putting in the effort to improve.

Example: Even if you’re benched for a game or receive criticism from a coach, maintain your commitment to improving your skills and contributing to the team.

4. Seek Feedback

Seek feedback from coaches and teammates after a failure. They can provide insights and suggestions for improvement that you might not have considered on your own.

Example: After a tough loss, approach your coach and ask for feedback on your performance. Their insights can guide your training and development.

How to Learn from Failure in Soccer and Improve Your Performance

Failure can be a powerful catalyst for improvement if you approach it with the right mindset. Here’s how to turn your failures into opportunities for growth:

1. Keep a Soccer Journal

Maintaining a journal of your soccer experiences can be incredibly beneficial. Document your games, practices, and thoughts. This journal can serve as a valuable resource for tracking your progress and identifying areas for improvement.

Example: After each game, write down your thoughts on your performance, including what went well and what needs work. Use this information to tailor your training.

2. Seek Mentorship

If possible, find a mentor or older player who can provide guidance and share their experiences. Learning from someone who has been through similar challenges can be invaluable.

Example: Connect with an older teammate who has faced the fear of failure in soccer and successfully overcome it. They can offer advice and support.

3. Set Specific Improvement Goals

Use your failures as a basis for setting specific improvement goals. Instead of vague goals like “get better at passing,” set goals like “improve short-range passing accuracy by 10% in the next two months.”

Example: If you consistently miss headers during games, set a goal to work on your heading accuracy during practice sessions until it becomes a strength.

4. Track Your Progress

Regularly assess your progress towards your improvement goals. Keep track of your successes, no matter how small, and celebrate your achievements along the way.

Example: If your goal is to improve your shooting accuracy, keep a record of your shooting percentages during practice sessions. When you see improvement, acknowledge and celebrate it.

Fear of Failure in Sports: A Common Challenge

It’s important to recognize that the fear of failure is not unique to soccer; it’s a common challenge in all sports. Athletes at every level, from high school to professional, grapple with this fear. However, the ability to overcome it is what sets exceptional athletes apart.

The great Kobe Bryant had a mindset about fear of failure, although it’s basketball, the same mentality holds true for women soccer players. 



1. Is it normal to feel fear of failure in soccer?

Yes, it’s entirely normal to feel the fear of failure in soccer. It’s a common emotion that athletes, including soccer players, experience. The key is learning how to manage and overcome this fear to perform at your best.

2. How can I stop dwelling on my mistakes in soccer?

To stop dwelling on your mistakes, practice mindfulness techniques to stay present in the game, develop a short-term memory for errors, and communicate with your team to foster a supportive environment. Remember that mistakes are part of the game, and learning from them is crucial.

3. What should I do if I lose motivation after a failure in soccer?

If you lose motivation after a failure, try surrounding yourself with supportive people, practicing self-compassion, setting new challenges, and seeking inspiration from professional soccer matches or successful players’ stories.

4. How can I bounce back from a tough loss in soccer?

To bounce back from a tough loss, maintain perspective by remembering that one loss doesn’t define your entire soccer career. Learn from the failure, stay committed to your goals, and seek feedback from coaches and teammates for improvement.

5. Is it possible to turn failure into an opportunity for growth in soccer?

Absolutely. Failure can be a powerful catalyst for improvement. Keep a soccer journal, seek mentorship, set specific improvement goals, and track your progress to leverage failure as an opportunity to become a better player.

Seek Professional Help

If you find that your fear of failure is overwhelming and negatively impacting your life, consider seeking support from a sports psychologist or mental health professional. They can provide personalized strategies and guidance to address your specific challenges.

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Fear of failure quotes specifically from women soccer players. Many female athletes have shared inspirational quotes that can apply to soccer and overcoming the fear of failure. Here are some quotes from female athletes that can resonate with high school-age female soccer players:


  1. Mia Hamm: “I am a member of a team, and I rely on the team, I defer to it and sacrifice for it because the team, not the individual, is the ultimate champion.”

  2. Serena Williams: “I really think a champion is defined not by their wins but by how they can recover when they fall.”

  3. Simone Biles: “I’d rather regret the risks that didn’t work out than the chances I didn’t take at all.”

  4. Venus Williams: “You have to believe in yourself when no one else does. That makes you a winner right there.”

  5. Billie Jean King: “Champions keep playing until they get it right.”

  6. Abby Wambach: “Failure is the best way to succeed. It’s the only way you learn, you have to fail in order to practice being brave.”

  7. Lindsey Vonn: “The most important thing is to have a good relationship with the bike… you have to understand what she wants. I think of a motorcycle as a woman, and I know that sounds silly, but it’s true.”

  8. Danica Patrick: “I can’t give people the formula for success, but I can give them the formula for failure, which is: Try to please everybody.”

While these quotes may not be directly related to soccer, they reflect the mindset and determination of successful female athletes. They can inspire high school female soccer players to face their fear of failure with confidence and resilience.



As a female high school soccer player, overcoming the fear of failure is a journey that requires self-awareness, resilience, and a growth mindset. Remember that making mistakes and facing setbacks are part of the game. By reframing failure as a learning opportunity, setting achievable goals, and staying motivated, you can conquer your fear of failure and continuously improve your soccer skills. Embrace the process, stay positive, and learn from your experiences to become a successful and confident soccer player.

In conclusion, the fear of failure is a common obstacle in soccer and sports in general. However, with the right mindset and strategies, you can overcome it and thrive as a female high school soccer player. Embrace the challenges, learn from your mistakes, and stay motivated to achieve your goals on the soccer field.

Picture of Author: Teesta Sisodia Sullivan

Author: Teesta Sisodia Sullivan

Teesta Sisodia Sullivan founded Soccer Talented to champion equality in women's soccer. Through her other initiative, Go Soccer Pro, Teesta has facilitated numerous footballers in realizing their European dreams.

Possessing an eclectic academic portfolio — a Law Degree from Stetson University, a Master's in Health Science from the University of North Florida, and a BA in Psychology from the University of Miami — she pairs in-depth knowledge with practical engagement.

She's a dedicated soccer mom to three children, although now all grown. Teesta recognizes the ambitions of budding players and is committed to fostering a conducive environment for their growth.

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