The Importance of Self-Talk

Written by ALP Coach Jennifer Sharp
For the most part, we are aware of what we say to other people. They provide immediate feedback if what we said to them is positive or negative. But what about when you talk to yourself? That little voice inside of your head that can support and pump you up or criticize and beat you down. The following are some tips you can use to improve your self-talk.
What do you say to yourself in the moment before competition or training? 

Language controls our behavior. Becoming aware of what you say to yourself prior to working out or competing is the first step in enhancing your self-talk. There is a direct relationship between language and sport behavior. Start noticing how you approach competition in your mind and make note of it.


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Create mental scripts.
Create a language routine that you can use during various points of a performance. It can focus on thoughts, behavior, emotions, physical feelings and/or images. For example, for a standing start in an electronic gate at the track you can practice hearing the count down timer, feel yourself rock back and explode forward, pushing the pedals and pulling your hips forward, picturing yourself strong, focused and fast. “Push, pull! Push, pull!” (I can still hear coaches yell this as a verbal reminder of what to do.)
Develop personal cue words for key techniques.
“Push, pull! Push, pull!” is a great example of doing that. Using cue words can help your mind and body focus on key things at key moments. Focus on key words that keep you in the present. Repeat them often so they create a sense of comfort and familiarity. That way when you are in the last few hours or minutes before performing, you can use those cue words to put you in the zone.
Hopefully you can create your own scripts and cue words for your next event. I’m curious – what are some of the things you do you do to help prepare yourself for competition? Please leave your comments below.
Editors note- I use “I am better. I am faster. I am stronger.”
photo credit- Josh Cook at Pactimo

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