Overcoming failure in sport: A self-forgiveness framework





Self-forgiveness, Failure, Sport, Athletes


Within the winner or loser dichotomy that exemplifies competitive sport, athletic success hinges on the ability to overcome and respond constructively to failure. This article introduces self-forgiveness as an adaptive, purposeful approach to coping with competitive sport performance failure in a way that stimulates personal growth and combats loss of motivation. In contrast to defensive responses that shield self-integrity, genuine self-forgiveness is reached through a process in which athletes (a) accept personal responsibility for their role in the unsuccessful performance outcome and (b) restore self-regard by affirming the self. Although athletes expose themselves to uncomfortable emotional experiences associated with failure, self-forgiveness is proposed as a process that enables athletes to objectively evaluate unsuccessful performances, identify areas warranting improvement, and develop adaptive psychological recovery responses to failure.


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How to Cite

Cowden, R. G., & Worthington, E. L. (2019). Overcoming failure in sport: A self-forgiveness framework. Journal of Human Sport and Exercise, 14(2), 254–264. https://doi.org/10.14198/jhse.2019.142.01