Nikephobia | Elite Tennis Journal

The excerpt below is taken from the article written by GPTCA President Alberto Castellani which appeared in the June edition of Elite Tennis Journal.


They are lions during practice, but during the match, they turn into rabbits: “nikephobia” - a fear of victory in athletes, and most commonly found in tennis players. Players are afraid to risk too much, but instead often choose the easier but also worse option.


"Today I had a 6-2, 5-1 30/0 lead and managed to lose. One step away from victory my legs trembled, my muscles surrendered, I couldn’t hit a proper shot...," one of my tennis students speaks, clearly nikephobic. Nikephobia, a fear to win, is also called “success phobia”, fear of success.

So many of my students have this problem, they cannot explain the reason for their defeat, when they are often just one step away from victory! The fear of losing is the predominant feeling among many athletes before and during the match. The fear is an absolute contradiction, a paradox: one of the goals in sport is to win, and when a nikephobic find him/herself one step from it, he/she tries not to win, with an unconscious mechanism. The fear of losing makes some sense while facing a highly competitive game when there is a risk that something might horribly go wrong. Fear of winning is not rationally justified, and yet it still exists! About 30% of my tennis players suffer from some form of nikephobia and I don't think the situation is any better at other tennis academies. I think the phenomenon is very widespread, so it’s time that we finally talk about it.


Read the full article here


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