Winning The Mental Battle
If you’re interested in improving your athletic performance, you may be surprised to know that a positive attitude can help far more than any supplement you can buy at GNC. According to Performance-media.com, “Peak performers in sports perceive the world in a way that is different from others. They perceive events and situations in ways that give them an advantage toward success. They expect success. They believe in themselves and their abilities.” Does that sound like you? If not, you need to learn “Winning Thoughts,” or positive self-talk used by championship athletes.
Performance-media.com advises changing self-talk to create Winning Thoughts. “Changing self-talk represents an important step toward overcoming performance stress. Self-talk helps to interpret the situations that are experienced. This means that self-talk can be used to re-interpret situations. When athletes learn to follow specific guidelines for internal dialogue, they experience pressure situations as less stressful. They are a roadblock away from their performance, and they begin the process of learning to produce winning thoughts.” The following guidelines will help you determine what self-talk to avoid:
Rule One: Avoid thinking that leads to worry or anxiety
Athletes who perform inconsistently, especially those who perform poorly in the face of risk and pressure, have self-talk which is centered on fear (fear of losing, fear of letting others down) or doubt ("I can't do it," "I haven't trained enough.") Such statements must be avoided. Words of doubt or fear erode confidence and generate stress.
Rule Two: Avoid thinking about past failures
If you face an opponent who has defeated you three times consecutively, thinking about those losses creates a negative thought process, one likely to develop high stress. If you have an event at a site where you experienced a particularly disappointing defeat, keep your mind away from replaying that past event—reviewing past failures before a competition charges the current event with stress and lowers the chance of your performing at your best level.
Rule Three: Avoid thinking that ties self-worth to performance
Avoid statements that imply your self-esteem will be damaged by poor performance, such as "If I lose this point (or match or tournament), I'm not any good," or "If I don't win, I'll feel worthless." When an athlete has the attitude that winning is critical for maintaining self-esteem, the stakes are too high. This attitude generates unnecessary stress.
Rule Four: Monitor your internal dialogue
To change internal dialogue, monitor what you say to yourself before competitions. Internal dialogue follows patterns. Statements made in internal narrative become habitual. Unfortunately, periodic reports frequently go unnoticed. The first step involves listening to inner dialogue so you know what to change.
Rule Five: Use internal dialogue that asserts your ability to regulate your state
Frequently, when athletes become stressed, they feel a loss of control. Self-talk can change this. Tell yourself that you regulate your stress level. Statements such as "I'm in control of how I feel," "I control how psyched up I feel," and "I regulate these feelings of being charged up" convey this idea.
Rule Six: Regard stress symptoms in a positive way
Stress reactions are open to interpretation. You view stress positively when you regard stress as activation. Rather than saying to yourself, "I'm afraid," or "I feel weak and shaky from nerves," re-interpret the symptoms. Say to yourself, "I feel challenged," "I feel powerful," "I feel excited," and "I'm ready." Such statements help you to shift the interpretation of stress to a feeling of being psyched up and challenged.
You can’t avoid stress. You can, however, use that stress to your advantage, as demonstrated by the reorientation of internal dialogue. By using winning thoughts and positive self-talk, you may find yourself performing better than you ever thought possible—thanks to your mind's power.