Self Talk - Who, What, Where, When, Why and How.
Who uses self-talk?
You. Your competitors. Your teammates. Your coach. Possibly your dog/cat too.
What is self-talk?
Simply put, that little voice in your head. It can be split into two categories, “Instructional” and “Motivational” here are two generic examples of each:
• The voice that tells you to keep your core strong doing an exercise in the gym.
• The voice that tells you to keep going when things get tough and you want to quit.
• That voice telling you a cue to focus on in order to maintain your technique.
• The voice that reminds you why you’re doing this when you’re struggling for motivation.
Where do we use self-talk?
Most places… Getting out of bed. On the way to a match/race. During training. In the gym. Whilst you wait in the McDonald’s drive-through queue. You know what I mean!
Why should we focus on improving our self-talk?
We can’t escape it, so why not try and get the most out of it in order to make our performance even better?
As is often the case with sport psychology, improving already well-defined processes is the focus here- even a small change can provide huge benefits for an individual/team.
Even the small act of becoming more aware of our self-talk can lead to a positive shift in performance, mental health and wellbeing.
How do we improve our self-talk?
Start with the simple exercise of documenting your self-talk: in the gym, at training, in matches etc. It’s important to not only record what you say, but also when you say it. Phone notes or a small journal are ideal for this.
After a good base of phrases/cues are built up from the exercise above, look for trends in times when your self-talk could be improved.
All that remains is to create new or adapted phrases/cues and try to use them in place of your existing self-talk in situations where you noticed it could be better.
Increase awareness and then practice, practice, practice. Not perfection, just progression.