Childhood Sports Failures Are Long Lasting

By Tom Rohrer, PhD, LMFT

When you are young, you don’t always take stock in the fact that events in our childhood — even something seemingly as simple as playing sports — can have major impacts on our emotional health and well-being as adults.

But you don’t need to have participated in sports at a high level, such as collegiately or professionally, to be impacted by a sports failure. Even seemingly minor incidents can cause mental-emotional blocks affecting other parts of your life, even as an adult.

To highlight this fact, let me bring you back to a time in my youth, well before Brainspotting was discovered or I had begun my education in psychology. This anecdote is a sports memory that helped define the way I think about trauma, sports, and their long-lasting impacts.

As a young teen, I was always interested in athletics and became quite skilled at basketball. I was never the best player on the team but could hold my own to the point where I earned plenty of playing time. Then, around the eighth grade, I began making mistakes on the basketball court in which I had never had a problem with before. In one game, I began turning the ball over by double dribbling multiple times, and from there, the problem got worse. Game after game, I continued to double dribble to the point where I was such a liability to my team that I no longer got into the game.

What I realize now as an adult with years of professional experience in psychotherapy and performance work, as well as with Brainspotting, is what I experienced on the basketball court as a child was a severe mental-emotional block. But what many people don’t realize is that even mental-emotional blocks as simple as something stemming from an amateur sporting event can stick with you your entire life. For me, this resulted in decades of test anxiety.

But there is hope to get over mental-emotional blocks and achieve one’s highest level of performance. Brainspotting is a therapeutic approach used to help you discover, face, and resolve mental-emotional blocks and reach a state of calm helping you deal with turbulent emotions. It has helped me find the core cause of my double dribbling, resolve my blocks and encourage my personal growth. It has also helped my clients experience life-changing benefits as well. From improving sports performance, tapping into the creative process, or even helping resolve struggles with issues such as addiction, Brainspotting is versatile.