Admit it or not, we talk to ourselves each and every day. Whether it’s an external declaration to no one of “Where are my keys?” or an internal voice that says “I hope the “Friends” reunion rumors are true,” there is always an inner dialogue going on. Talking to yourself, more professionally referred to as “self-talk,” has been shown to benefit athletes in a variety of ways from sports performance to general morale to staying calm in stressful situations. To understand the concept of self-talk and how to do it effectively, we must first understand who is having the conversation.
Who is it doing the talking?
This may seem like a silly concept to discuss as the name “self-talk” gives quite the insight into who is having a conversation with you. As W. Timothy Gallwey describes in his book The Inner Game of Tennis, your inner conversations happen between two characters we will henceforth refer to as “self 1- the teller” and “self 2-the doer.” Self 1- the teller is the one who says all the things you’re thinking during your game: “get under the ball,” “don’t serve into the net,” “your shoe’s untied, genius.” Self 2- the doer is then the one that gets you under the ball, gets the ball over the net on the serve, and makes sure you get that shoe tied before the ref calls you out for it.
So how can this chitter chatter help you while you’re playing? Here are 3 ways talking to yourself will improve volleyball performance!
Positive self-talk has been proven time and again to directly associate with better performance.
Examples of positive self talk are “that was fantastic,” “you got this,” “you’re a superstar.”
Technical self-talk are cues to remind you of tips and techniques that have typically been given by a coach or instructor in the form of feedback. These technical cues are used to initiate an appropriate action or movement.
Examples of technical self-talk include “get behind the ball,” “stay on your toes,” “snap the wrist and follow through.”
Neutral self-talk is typically used more for endurance athletes, but is perfect for all athletes during training activities such as running. Neutral self-talk is thinking about things to get your mind off of the rigor of the current activity.
Now if you’re not used to getting this kind of encouragement from anyone besides your mom, the transition to using self-talk effectively can be difficult. It’s hard to go from “I’m playing terribly today” to “I’m the best player I can be.” However, just as negative self-judgments have a habit of becoming self-fulfilled, positivity can have the same impact!
When running, my positive self-talk includes phrases like “the faster you run the sooner you’re done” and “forward is still a pace.” What are you motivational phrases?