Positive self-talk is a mental skill’s technique that can help an athlete’s performance through enhancing their internal dialogue. Self-talk can be described as what the moment means to that athlete at a specific point in time. The internal dialogue is simply thoughts that make themselves known and can direct your actions to respond to these inner thoughts. This inner voice, questions actions in performance which can be processed very quickly eventually becoming automatic in nature. These thoughts are usually activated from some form of trigger in the brain which can be represented either through internal or external stimuli.
The brain then gives meaning to what has been seen, heard or imagined and the information is then assessed and analysed. The result of our thinking then informs our emotions which can influence our actions and behaviour. When we achieve something we reinforce the action or behaviour. Reinforcing a pattern by approving the message that is displayed as a by product of a behaviour results in the thoughts becoming habits. Therefore if the message is negative then the outcome is likely to be negative. The brain can only hold one thought at any given moment and therefore you have to replace the thought with preferably a positive thought immediately. If you continue to repeat a negative representation of the situation you are rehearsing you enhance the neurological pathways to make the signal and message stronger. The positive thoughts can be viewed as productive thoughts because they can lead to positive actions.
The athlete should recognise the consequences by using these negative thoughts in their internal dialogue. Once this has been established then you can begin to implement change. The primary focus of attention is directed to what’s happening in the immediate. The common mistake is focusing your internal dialogue on past events or future outcomes. Often people may recognise that trigger and how it impacts on them but fail to deal with the present situation. What was the original intention may have been positive, but now could have shifted their state and negatively affect their actions. We have the ability to change the pattern and have the choices to promote change.
|A negative Self-Talk
|Reconstruct to be positive
|‘I can not do this’
|‘This will be challenging but with’ persistence I will get through this
|‘What a rubbish kick’
|‘Let me learn from this kick’
|‘I am stupid’
|‘What could I have done better to be more accurate’