Positive Self-Talk
Providing the Mental Edge, Part III

In part II of Providing the Mental Edge we covered the base of the pyramid with learning about motivation and we began the discussion on focus and time orientation. Before we move on to positive self-talk you may be asking yourself why we’re not covering the second tier of the Model of Mental Toughness by McGuire, Ivey and Selking.

As part I of the series noted, developing an athlete’s psyche will not compensate for a lack of preparation on any level. Preparation for sport should be well rounded and multi-faceted with mental preparation playing a bigger role than traditionally thought, as it plays a role in all aspects of preparation.

Self-talk is another term for thinking – your thoughts are your self-talk, an ongoing conversation with yourself. In fact, it is the most influential conversation you ever have. That last statement is what makes it crucial to have positive self-talk!

Self-Talk Model

Relationship Between Thoughts, Emotions, Physical Being and Behavior (Reardon, 2010; Beck et al, 1979; and Ellis, 1973)

If your ongoing conversation with yourself is negative, it is wrong and it hurts your performance. But they’re your thoughts which means you can control them and you have the power to change them. You can choose positive self-talk and you can choose to think right with positive thoughts to help your performance. To understand further, check out the Self-Talk Model developed by Reardon et al.

Situations could be in sport or in life; thinking is your thoughts and reactions; emotions are self-explanatory; physical is referring to your physical response; and behavior in sport can mean great plays, or behavior in life can be actions taken.

When we encounter situations, we have thoughts → our thoughts affect our emotions → our emotions affect our physical being → our physical being affects our behaviors → thus, our thoughts affect our behaviors. Our thoughts affect how we play and perform. When we meet challenging or difficult situations and we become upset, we must consciously choose positive self talk and thinking right.

To help with choosing our thoughts we can have affirmations prepared ahead of time to make it easy to choose positive self-talk. Affirmations are strong, positive statements about yourself, your team and/or your mission. They should be strong, rational, strategic, motivating, personal and, of course, positive. Remember, this is the most influential conversation you have with yourself and it’s a skill. Having familiarized yourself with these affirmations before hand will set yourself up for success when you encounter a difficult situation because you’ll have a positive thought ready before you allow a negative thought to enter your mind.

Here is a list to get you started:

  • I am great!
  • I am strong!
  • I am prepared!
  • I am tough!
  • I am ready!
  • I trust!
  • I believe!
  • I am focused!
  • I will deliver!
  • I will do my job!
  • I will bring my best focus today!
  • Start fast, finish strong!
  • Sixty minutes!
  • No excuses!
  • Preparation leads to confidence!
  • We are together!
  • We are ready!
  • We are strong!
  • We are focused!
  • We will stop them!
  • We will score!

Positive, affirming, focused thoughts produce the opportunity for consistently great plays for peak performance. Positive self-talk is a skill that can be controlled and is a choice. Positive self-talk is thinking right.


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