#82: Q&A: Helping The Athlete That Has To Be ‘The Best’ At Everything

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How do we help our female athletes excel and be the best at everything they do? And how do we recognize when it’s too much? Is your female athlete struggling to keep up with everything?

There’s a thin line between doing your best and doing too much. Our daughters’ feelings of immense pressure might be coming from a place of perfectionism and competitiveness.

Let’s talk about the early signs of perfectionism, how to differentiate between doing the best or doing too much, and how to help our female athletes get the right balance of things.

Doing your best or doing too much?

We’re gonna start with a question from one of our ECP moms.

“How do I help my athlete who has to be the best at everything she does – academics, social, her sport, etc. She’s drowning trying to keep up with it all.”

Are you familiar with this kind of situation? This whole idea of trying to be the greatest at everything, but then feeling like you’re drowning and can’t keep up, is a telltale indicator of perfectionism. When I look at this question, I see a couple of different elements beneath it.

First, it appears that she is doing too much. When you say she’s drowning, trying to keep up, it sounds like she’s got too many balls in the air, too many plates spinning, and she just can’t do it all. When you say she needs to be the greatest at everything, I see perfectionism emerging. The desire to be the best, be perfect and ensure that she is putting in A-plus effort in all she does. We can see some competitiveness coming through in these athletes. Some of them may believe that being competitive means being better than others. Their primary goal is to outperform others in all aspects of life.

The trouble is that trying to be the best at everything is an unachievable undertaking, and this is where she feels like she’s drowning. Human as we are, we cannot do everything and we cannot be the greatest at everything.

And whatever that means to her, whether it’s beating everyone in her class or being the greatest on her team, or she simply has this concept of success in her brain that she’s always trying for but never reaching. You know, perfection is an unattainable standard to meet.

Being the best in everything

We teach athletes in the top competitor program that everyone has an inner perfectionist. And some people’s perfectionism tendencies are stronger than others. There’s also a potential that our brain built this state of perfectionism to keep us safe and going forward.

And if athletes do not realize that they do not have to listen to their perfectionist notions, they will always believe that this is who they are and that they cannot change. They’ll believe it’s just how they’re wired, but we can modify how we approach things. We may modify our perspective on things and decide what our standards are and what measure of success we have. 

We are not lowering their standards; rather, we are allowing them to determine what is important to them and what success means to them. Typically, top achiever athletes in ECP begin to realize why they are setting this unachievable ideal with which they are never content. And why do they feel obligated to do everything?

Looking inward 

If you believe your daughter suffers from perfectionism, I strongly advise her to improve on her mental game. Athletes believe that perfectionism is beneficial when in fact it is hindering their progress. And until they know this and see how it is affecting them, they will remain in these patterns, and the repercussions can be severe. 

Perfectionists frequently experience burnout faster than anyone else. They don’t experiment with new things. They’re just really critical of themselves. They don’t take criticism well. So there are a lot of issues that we need to solve in this area. The athletes don’t see it because they believe perfectionism will help them achieve their goals.

There are two things you can do about it. 

The first step is to provide her with the opportunity to learn what she needs to do. 

She must have the skills to understand what is going on inside her brain. That is what she will learn by-

  • Realizing that this is a part of her
  • Understanding what perfectionism is
  • How it serves her
  • How it does not serve her. 

Athletes can have the opportunity to learn these in mental game training such as the Elite Competitor Program.

The second step is what you can do as her mom. 

What you can do is turn the lens inward rather than outward.

Perfectionism, and athletes who suffer from it, are always shifting that lens outward. They are concerned about what others think of them, and they are acting to gain the praise, recognition, and approval of others. 

Their overarching question is— “what will people think?” We see this a lot with perfectionists, who are high achievers—- who feel compelled to be flawless to gain the praise of others. And they believe that is what others expect of them. 

They are constantly concerned with what other people expect from them. So, we’re going to focus that lens inward. And assist them in determining what is important to them.

 “What matters to me as an athlete?”

 “What do I want?” 

As a mother, you can help support that. We have a complete half of the elite competitor program dedicated to the moms of athletes.

And below are some crucial questions we advise to assist their female athletes in overcoming perfectionism.

“Does this matter to you? The most?”

“If that’s what matters to you the most, would it be okay if we could eliminate the other things?” 

“Do you want this for yourself? Or do you want this for someone else?”

“What would happen if you simply did what made you happy?”

Assist her in investigating her definition of success. What is her standard of success in school, socially, and in sports? Create an opportunity to ask her these questions since they are quite helpful in helping her reflect on what her definition of success is. And modify their definition of success by having to be better than everyone else and the best.

Improvement is the measure of success for athletes who strive healthily. Personal development. You can help make that happen. Last but not the least, never underestimate the power of simply noticing and telling them the joy of doing things that matters. Perfectionists only do things because they believe others expect them to, even if they’re not happy.


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