In my previous post I spoke of imagery and the different uses for imagery ranging from learning new technique to acting as a motivational tool. Another of the psychological skills used within sport and performance settings is self-talk. The name is in the title, it's how we talk to ourselves, whether out loud or internally. Too often our self-talk is negative and it has a negative impact upon not only our performance there and then, but also our self-esteem, confidence, and self-belief.
You might already use self-talk whether consciously or unconsciously. Do you have a "mantra" you say to yourself when you need to dig in, or to overcome those doubts? Other people refer to self-talk as affirmations and for the purposes of succeeding we generally encourage positive self-talk or affirmations. That's not to say that some people don't use negative self-talk as motivation and benefit from it, but the essence is on what you say to yourself helps you achieve your goal rather than hinder or sabotage it.
One of my mantras is "I can, I will" which is where "youcanyouwill" came from, it's about me empowering you to believe you can succeed. The mantras you use for self-talk have to work for you, so it's not about me giving you generic statements as there's no guarantee they will resonate with you and work. It's also about asking yourself what purpose you want them to serve: is it about being motivational, as in "I can do this, I will do this", or is it about helping focus on technique, "run tall"? The statements should be punchy and you should know exactly what you mean even if only using one word such as "strong". When I worked with a previous coach I built up to holding a plank for three minutes. For those of you that think this a long time then you can imagine the pain and the shakes that set in after a certain time. When that happened I would use a combination of imagery to see myself performing the plank as I wanted to, whilst also saying to myself in my head "strong" to help me believe that I could hold that plank for the 3 minutes and to do so strongly. Needless to say, it worked! That's the thing, the things I speak of on this website are all things I can personally vouch for as I'm my own psychologist, I use everything i advocate.
So, if you want to create your own self-talk statements, then ask yourself what helps drive you forwards, what helps motivate you, and what helps you focus on good form, etc. Then ask yourself what doesn't help as we don't want to have anything in that list that will work against you. You might only need three or four, depending on how you are going to use them, but you need to practice them during training, or prior to performance, so that when you really need them they are second nature and you know they work. You need to have faith in these mantras, as its pointless you repeating these statements to yourself if you are doubting yourself as you say them.
Any time you start getting down on yourself, or you start thinking negatively, use these mantras to help you refocus on living the life you want to live, and having the performance you want to have. If you need any help in creating this list and finding statements that work for you then please get in touch via my contact page.