Positive Self Talk

Why It’s Important and 3 Things You Can Do to Practice

How we talk to ourselves can affect many aspects of our performance. Two main results of Self Talk are our emotional state and confidence, two factors that can have a profound impact on our ability to perform our best. So, if you want to perform to the best of your ability, especially in an important or highly competitive atmosphere, how you talk to yourself is important.

First, practice thinking about events in a positive manner. It is counter productive to tell yourself ‘don’t drop the ball, don’t miss the shot, don’t pass to the opponent etc.’ Instead, think ‘What should I be doing?’. Those same phrases might look like ‘protect the ball, I will make this shot, and Make sure to pass to my teammate’.Think ‘What is the ideal or what should I do?’.

Second, neutralize events perceived as negative. If you dump a ball into the net, miss a shot or fail to execute a plan, surround that event with as little of emotion as possible. It is ok to acknowledge your disappointment. The key is to minimize the importance and defer the emotion to a time that is more convenient for you to experience it. For example, ‘Missing that serve makes me so angry, but it’s ok. I will be upset a little later’. Then think ‘What adjustments do I have to do NOW to make my next shot?’.

Finally, minimize the importance of a big event. In order to perform your best, you must be calm and carefree. Although a certain level of excitement is ok, it is vital not to cross over in to being overly anxious. Rather than think ‘There are so many girls here, and they are so much better than me. How can I possibly compete?’, it would be more useful to think ‘I will treat this try out like a practice. I will perform the best of my ability , and I will be fine.’

So, lose ‘don’t’ from your vocabulary, become more neutral about errors and mistakes, and create a calm environment even in the most nerve wracking situations for your best performance possible.

Sheryl Kline Cardiff, M.A.