Perfectionism is a multidimensional personality construct that has been linked with various forms of maladjustment. In this article, we discuss the role of perfectionism as a maladaptive factor in sports and exercise, and we describe a phenomenon we identify as the perfectionism paradox. We note that even though certain sports require athletes to achieve perfect performance outcomes, the tendency to be characterized by perfectionistic personality traits and to be cognitively preoccupied with the attainment of perfection often undermines performance and fosters a sense of dissatisfaction with performance. We review existing findings in the literature on sports and exercise and demonstrate that the extreme orientation that accompanies perfectionism is antithetical to attaining positive outcomes. Finally, future research directions are outlined.
Flett, G. L., & Hewitt, P. L. (2005). The perils of perfectionism in sports and exercise. Current directions in psychological science, 14(1), 14-18.