During an interview before a preseason game, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers spoke about how he prepared for a big game. Besides the usual film, playbook review and working on timing with his receivers, Rodgers also spoke about taking some positive words into each game.
So what is it about using positive words? First of all, they are of couse positive and things that should be floating around in our heads anyhow. How do you use them to harness your focus and facilitate better performance? There are several methods with the ideaof converting these positive inputs to reprogram our subconscious. Sounds almost pie-in-the-sky, but it isn't.
Affirmations are the most common concept of applying positive words systematically. They are short, positive (a requirement), and elicit positive emotion in the athlete. They can be repeated in mantra-like form, written down, posted at one's desk, or placed/recited anywhere one sees fit.
Mantras involve taking a word or words and repeating several times over mentally or quietly to oneself with the purpose of overriding negative emotion, anxiety, anger, or just to gain clearer focus on the task at hand. Australian swim guru Craig Townsend instructs athletes to practice affirmations repeatedly for at least 3-5 minutes per day.
As an athlete, I like to use positive words in both training and competition. I am currently building for a half-marathon race in November and have recently began to dial in my own personal mental training program. Townshend suggests changing our affirmations regularly to diversify positive inputs to the subconscious.
This week, I have found using the words "grace and confidence" and repeating those to have a positive effect. During the first and last few miles of my run this morning, I relaxed my hands, shoulders, and jaw like I usually do to loosen up, and spent about a mile repeating those two words, "grace and confidence" over and over again in my mind. I found it rather helpful in maintaining a positive outlook and focus as I put in 12 miles on the roads.
Hopefully the reader finds this anectdote useful. Next time you're prepping for a game or event, try incorporating some positive words into your preparation.
Source: Townshend, C. (2005) Mind Training for Swimmers: Everything You Need to Know. Bellissima.