Positive Self Talk

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Thoughts, feelings and behaviors are all linked.  When we talk negatively to ourselves [self talk] we feel bad.  Feeling bad will mean we have far less energy/confidence to behave [perform] to the best of our ability.  When we don’t behave [perform] well, we think badly of ourselves, which in turn leads to feeling bad etc.  This is a spiral that can and must be avoided in sport, and in life!

By shutting our minds to any negative thoughts like, “I am rubbish, I will never hit the shuttle” or, ” that team are so much better than us, we are definitely going to lose” we can avoid feeling bad and then performing poorly.  In order to succeed we must learn to use “positive self talk”.  Thoughts such as “I am going to score this penalty” or “this ball is going right down the middle of the fairway” make us more likely to feel happy and confident and then perform to the best of our ability.



Typically, positive self-talk (encouraging, instructional or motivational) has been shown to improve performance for sports as diverse as endurance running, golf, skiing, tennis, and darts.  Researchers have shown that using simple positive phrases, such as “I can” or “ball-target” help with both power-based and more precision-based skills.


Whether muttering under your breath, urging yourself on or cursing ourselves in frustration at a simple mistake, we all engage in self-talk daily. For an elite athlete in the centre of a roaring stadium, internal voices may have a critical effect on how they are feeling, and how they perform.

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