Talk for Success
By Dr. Chris Stankovich
Positive Self-Talk & why it is important!
Self-talk is exactly what you would think it would be – it is the quiet, internal dialogue you have with yourself. We all engage in self-talk, but interestingly some of us carry on positive, facilitative “discussions” (i.e. “Keep your head in the game!”) while others allow negative self-talk to take over (“I suck at this!!”). What you say to yourself can have dramatic consequences, and can really be the “fork in the road” when it comes to perseverance versus simply giving up.
Ironically, we have total control over what we “say” to ourselves, and depending on what we choose, the results can either be positive or negative. When you choose to engage in positive self-talk, you can expect your emotional state to improve, as well as your self-confidence.
Furthermore, when you are positive and feel good about your abilities, you are much more likely to play better – resulting in even more self-confidence! On the other hand, by saying nasty things to yourself, you are actually throwing your mind-body synchrony out of whack, resulting in more anxiety, more frustration, and more poor play.
Why Positive Self-Talk Works
Self-talk really helps because it allows you to focus on relevant things (i.e. what you need to do on the next play), as well as helps your mind and body get in synchrony with one another (leading to more automatic “muscle memory” reactions). Positive self-talk can help with focus (i.e. “I have to cover that man”), instruction (i.e. “Keep your head down”), and mood state (i.e. “Stay up!”).
While it may sound too simple to think that positive self-talk can help in all those areas, this really is the case! Self-talk is one of the most basic – yet very important – tools we can use to improve our performances – in sports and in life!
How to use Positive Self-Talk
• Positive self-talk can be used all the time! There really is no limit on how many good things you can say to yourself on a daily basis.
• Decide how to use positive self-talk based on your personal needs. For example, if you usually forget a mechanical aspect of your sport, you might choose to say a few things to help you remember the information during a game (i.e. “Watch the ball all the way to the glove”).
• If you catch yourself throwing a temper tantrum, or acting out in any negative way, it’s very likely that the self-talk you are engaging in is also negative and angry. Throw down a challenge to yourself to immediately change this way of reacting and instead tell yourself something positive and inspiring – the result will be a much better mindset for the next play.
• Remember, positive self-talk is free and easy to use! Sometimes in life we search for bigger answers to our problems, when in reality simple things (like regular positive self-talk) can make all the difference in the world!