The muscle that often gets overlooked in an athlete is the 5-in space between the ears. Self-talk can be described as our internal dialogue that occurs moment to moment in our heads; ranging from simple statements to elaborate internal conversations.
If we choose to not work this 5-in space out regularly, there's relevant risk for focus issues, increased anxiety, and sub-par performances. With a little practice and finding words that work for you, one can learn how to use positive self-talk as a powerful weapon in their athletic skill set.
Provided are some handy examples of some good statements to start feeding into your mental loops versus some that are not so good, or performance hampering. Do any of these ever look familiar?
- "I'm in this game from start to finish."
- "Be present."
- "If I make a mistake, it doesn't mean anything for the next play."
- "My training is sound."
- "I want this."
- "Be free"
- "Play/run/swim/bike, etc loose"
- "Just like in training."
- "I belong."
The Bad/Ugly/Not-So Good:
- "I'm not ready for this."
- What if I mess up?"
- "Don't freak out."
- "I don't know if I can do this."
- "What did I get myself into?"
- "My coach/parent/significant other will be upset if I don't do well."
- "I'm never going to get off the bench."
- "I'm tired."
- "I can never ________."
- "I'm out of my league."
This is just a sampling of some common ones that occur during competition and training in competitors. Next time, we'll discuss strategies for how to start eliminating some of those pesky negative thoughts to help one perform to their real potential.