11 Warning Signs to Performance-Based Identity
Photo by: Abigail Keenan on Unsplash
Many elite athletes, such as Michael Phelps and Royce White, have spoken out on mental health issues as a byproduct of the pressures they face from sports performance. Purpose is critical to an athlete’s identity and well-being. Athletes with a purpose-based identity experience lower levels of mental health, high life satisfaction, and emotional resiliency after disappointing sports performance. Performance-based identity, on the other hand, prevents athletes from thriving both in sports and life. Athletes with a performance-based identity share a fear of failure, self-criticism, and low self-worth.
Because these athletes often struggle in silence, performance-based identity is difficult to recognize and can be dealt with in different ways. For example, some athletes may work harder to prove their self-worth while others may avoid competition altogether in order to protect their self-worth. Athletes who base their self-worth on performance rather than purpose risk undermining their emotional health and wellbeing.
As coaches, parents, and caring adults, it is important to help young athletes move towards purpose-based identity. The following warning signs can help you determine whether your athlete suffers from performance-based identity:
- Feels good about themselves only if they perform well.
- Blames others or creates excuses after poor performances.
- Worries that people will like them if they fail.
- Attempts to control every aspect of their life in order to win.
- Can’t let go of mistakes or move past poor performances.
- Use of negative self-talk for motivation.
- Isolation from meaningful relationships.
- Self-sabotages or thinks of excuses to avoid competition.
- Pre-competition anxiety overrides all excitement to compete.
- Extreme jealousy or anger towards those who do better.
- Loss of joy for the sport.
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 Read my article, Moving from Performance to Purpose in Youth Sports to learn how caring adults can do this best.