Unhealthy Thought Patterns in Athletes

We can all get caught up in thought patterns that are distorted and unhelpful. It’s okay. The key is becoming more aware, and learning how to effectively create change when those thoughts are unhealthy.

Our thoughts are incredibly powerful and can cause us to feel doubtful, pissed or anxious. As you review this list of unhelpful thought patterns, you’ll realize that you use some of these, and that you commonly hear others use them as well.  Again, most people aren’t aware that they’re using these unhelpful patterns. They may have learned them or began using them and they simply became a pattern.

If you can understand these better as a leader, and normalize them, you’ll have better tools to help others grow in their awareness and understanding.

Check out these common “distorted” thinking patterns. Download it HERE


You can reference this download any time you want. Feel free to use it as a reference when you’re coaching others.

What To Do If Someone Is Overusing One Of These Unhelpful Thought Patterns

  1. If someone who I coach/lead is using one of these, what I’ll typically do is ask if they want to learn more about unhelpful thought patterns that we all use.
  2. If they’re open to that, and say yes, then I’ll typically share this list, or even share the specific one I hear them use.
  3. Then, I’ll ask if they recognize this in their thoughts or self talk? I may ask them to provide some examples or insight
  4. We explore together ways this impacts them, and where they believe this thought comes from
  5. We brainstorm together some ways we can work on this and what may be helpful for them


A) Which 2-3 from the list above do you use MOST often?

B) Think through the clients, athletes or employees that you lead; do any of them use these thought-patterns? If so, which ones are limiting them or holding them back?  Would it be helpful to share them, or have a mini-lesson about them, to bring greater awareness for them? Consider how you might bring this up.



Take the time to do some of your own research to learn more about any of these specific thought patterns.  A quick google search on them may provide you with a lot more insight so that you can monitor your own thinking and help the thinking of those who you lead.

*I refer back to this list often to check myself. We can use these thinking patterns in sooooo many situations in our lives. It’s normal to have some unhelpful thinking, we all do. But, to be better and healthier, we all gotta keep looking for ways to improve our thinking. Save this list to your desktop, and create conversations about it, and your tendencies with others in your life.



I’m Dawn Fletcher, the owner of Driven Mind. I help driven-individuals perform better and achieve greatness in all that they do.

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