Performance anxiety and panic tend to strike during critical moments of competition. This compromises decision-making as fear takes cognitive networks offline. When fears and memories of performance issues remain unacknowledged, minimized and unprocessed, they become wired to body memory, and affect physical performance.
Performance may be adversely affected by anxiety, panic, counterproductive core beliefs, emotional reactivity (anger or elation), self-sabotage, external versus internal motivation, self-doubt, performance blocks, repetitive sports injuries, the yips, fear of failure, and fear of success. These issues may operate outside of conscious control and without the athlete’s awareness. The effects of abusive or hypercritical parent(s) or coaches, may also be wired into body memory and emerge at the most unwelcome times, again, without conscious control.
Finally, perfectionism, attempts to control outcome, and fear of embarrassment or humiliation often co-occur and constitute what I call the "Bermuda Triangle" of sports performance. These issues tend to cluster together because they reinforce each other. This typically causes a downward spiral of performance.
Ideally, the goals of performance and sports psychology include an increased awareness, clarity, present-moment focus, total engagement, and sense of control even in the face of errors. These mental skills reinforce the intrinsic reward of competing in your sport and produce better competitive results. As these goals are met, the athlete has a greater chance of entering 'the zone'.