CUP Undergraduate Research


Fear of Failure in Competitive Athletics

Date of Award

Spring 4-1-2011

Document Type

Restricted Access Thesis


College of Theology, Arts, & Sciences



Degree Name

Psychology, BA

First Advisor

Erin Mueller, PhD


Since the beginning of the field of sports psychology around the 1960s, psychologists and athletes have been working together to explore what causes an athlete to fear failure. The purpose of this study is to look at three different aspects: view of perfectionism, coaching style, and level of competitive play, to understand how these affect the athlete’s ability to perform to their maximum ability. This study analyzed three National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) level teams and 3 NCAA Division I (D1) colleges to assess the three different variables on fear of failure. Participants participated in a short survey to investigate their insight and mentality of sport. Also, this study shows how their understanding of the three different factors may lead to the overall fear of failure. Differences between the six schools gave evidence to how the three variables affect the athlete and their fear of failure. The results of this study will allow the sport psychology field a deeper understanding of coaching style, level of competition, and views of perfectionism, as reasons for an athlete fearing failure.

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