Once at a dinner with a group of Stanford MBA students, I raised the notion of mistakes being central to development and success. Every person at the table agreed with me but not a single person was able to agree without putting a qualifier on it:
"Yes, mistakes are good as long as they aren't thoughtless mistakes."
"Yes, mistakes are okay, but certain kinds of mistakes can't be tolerated."
"Well, sure, mistakes are acceptable, but not the same mistake twice."
My position is that mistakes are good - period! Saying that certain kinds of mistakes are okay but others are not is really just saying that some mistakes really aren't mistakes at all.
Fear of making a mistake is a paralyzing force that robs athletes of spontaneity, love of the game, and a willingness to try new things. It is the no-buts approach to mistakes that gives the sense of psychological and emotional freedom that can unlock the learning process and occasionally release truly inspired athletic performance.