Unwanted Performance Commentary

Mental training in sports

That voice inside your head has probably become such an everyday unconscious experience that you haven’t thought of what its purpose is and how very easy it is to control it. This is known as ‘Internal Dialogue’, it is what you are probably using to read this article right now. Thats right, that voice. Just pay attention to the way you are reading the words.

Is the voice your own or someone elses?

Is it loud or soft?

What speed is it going at?

What pitch is it, low or high?

Is it more on your left ear or your right ear, all around or coming from a single spot?

Does it have a particular tone?

Think how useful your internal dialogue is. Do you get vital messages by ‘saying’ things to yourself?  Do you use it to describe what people are doing, even think through what you are going to say before you say it?

There are many different uses for your internal dialogue and it is a common experience that sometimes we have too much of it and cannot control it. Maybe you can recall one time when you were feeling  quite un-resourceful and pay attention to the internal dialogue as you remember this. Now think deeply of one of the most resourceful times in your life, one that you would have back right now and pay attention to the quality of your internal dialogue. When you are experiencing two such different states you will notice a difference in the internal dialogue. What is true for humans is that the qualities of our internal dialogue (e.g. volume, pitch, speed etc) directly correlate with our internal kinaesthetic arousal (i.e. how we feel and the exact location of those feelings in our body). Additionally, it also stands to reason that whilst you are talking to yourself you are doing so at cost.

It will cost you processing space for information coming through your senses about the environment. It can cost you information and consequent performance of actions being generated by your nervous system. If the qualities of the internal dialogue are inappropriate, it can cost you in terms of feelings that reduce your experience (reduced self-esteem, motivation, depression etc).

It will cost you when you are being coached or receiving instructions by taxing your processing capabilities more than you need to (commonly call NOT paying attentio

If, for example, you are a sprinter and you have furious internal dialogue activity before and during you race, you will be pulled down by it and as running in wellington boots would be easier. You wouldn’t disadvantage yourself so obviously would you? Its amazing how many of us actually d

It is highly possible to suspend the internal dialogue at will thus allowing a deeply rich intake of the environment and incredibly fast responses – a perfect high performance state for top athletic performance amongst other things.

Use this checklist and change your internal voice qualities to the opposite of your answers, or whatever has the most effect.

REMEMBER: The WORDS being spoken by your internal dialogue ARE INSIGNIFICANT compared to the following structural qualities:

How FAST is it going? (Speed it up or slow it down, notice the effect)

How LOUD is it? (reduce or amplify it, notice the effect

What PITCH is it? ( make it higher or lower, chipmunks or barry white pitch, notice the effect)

Whose voice is it?  E.g. Mine, my uncles, my coach (change it to different people, notice the effect)

What LOCATION is it coming from? (Move it around, notice the effect)

What TONE/TIMBRE is it? (Play with the sound quality, is muffled, distorted, clear, phased etc)

Play with all of these qualities and notice what has the greatest effect on the way you feel and perform. Sometimes you may go away from the voice and when you come back its still in its old quality. I guarantee that if you just change it back to the new qualities a few times then it will stick

Playing with these qualities is your training. The message that it reinforces is that YOU ARE ABLE TO CONTROL YOUR INTERNAL DIALOGUE…