The average person has up to 60,000 thoughts per day. Why not make them self-created and truly positive thoughts?
From a mental perspective the most tried and true way to enhance performance is through self-confidence. Positive self-talk enhances self-confidence which enhances performance. Internal dialogue significantly influences performance.
A performance statement specifically identifies the process of success and what it takes to perform at your best. Think about a statement you have told yourself before an event, performance, classroom test or social situation that put you in a frame of mind to do your best. For some there may be more than one statement, such as a basketball or baseball player when playing on offense and then on defense.
The key is to identify the single most fundamental idea of what it takes for you to be successful, allowing yourself to simplify your task. Simplicity keeps distractions away. It is very beneficial to know what to think before a competition or task.
I try to use positive phrases. I could have said I try not to use negative sentences. Notice the difference. First, all positive. Second, eliminate “don’t” thinking – such as saying what not to do. Tell yourself what you want to do. Around a pool – Walk! Versus Don’t run. Ask about examples in their sports. Don’t thinking increases stress and anxiety. Focus instead on what needs to be done.
Avoid mental clutter which is random mental thinking. That is, unfocused thinking. Keep it simple.
The essence of mental toughness is the ability to replace negative thinking with thoughts that are centered on performance cues and that contribute to improved self-confidence. Your body will listen to what your mind tells it. 60,000 thoughts a day – make them positive thoughts. See what happens.
Identify thoughts that produce consistently strong performances. Give me examples. If we are going to eliminate ‘don’t’ thinking, what are we going to replace it with? Think about what you want to happen and what it will take to make it happen. Life will be more enjoyable and you increase the odds that you will reach or exceed your perceived potential. Determine what you want to accomplish and lock your mind on what it takes to achieve that task or goal. Think about the path to success rather than thinking about the obstacles in your way. Then put your energy into going down that path. Realize sometimes the hardest step is the first step. Allow for your mind to process positive steps.
Performance statements serve two purposes: they help to avoid self-doubt, negativity and mental clutter. They help you to perform at your best by focusing on the tasks that need to be accomplished.
Eliminating self-doubt and negativity is half of the process. Try this – don’t think of a pink elephant with blue running shoes. -pause- What did you think about? How many things did you think about? The mind can only think about one thing at a time. Thus, if you are thinking about what’s going wrong, you cannot think about what it takes to make it right. If you can only think of one thing at a time. Think about positive things. I can . . . I am able . . . I will. . .
Your Performance Statement must keep you in a positive frame of mind. Avoid the word “don’t.” Remind yourself what you need to do. Create a brief phrase. Use what you think works for you.
Creating a Performance Statement:
- Imagine the biggest competition of your life. 60 seconds before the competition your coach looks you in the eye and tells you to stay focused on one or two things to be a success. What are those one or two things? (Avoid the word don’t.)
- Again imagine the biggest competition of your life. This time you are the coach & athlete. What one or two things would you, the coach, name? Keep them short & simple. You decide how many statements you would like to have. They can change over time. Knowing what to think or scripting what to think is far better than letting thoughts occur naturally. Otherwise, your mind will likely revert back to negative thinking. And your body will listen to your mind.
You are more likely to be successful and work closer to your potential by listening to your positive performance statement.
The more frequently you focus on your Performance Statement the more likely you are to be successful and work closer to your potential.
Use your Performance Statement – especially if you catch yourself using the word “don’t.”
“10-Minute Toughness: A Summary from Coach Terry Horn, Burlingame, CA”, By Jason Selk in the “American Swimming Coaches Association Newsletter” Volume 2010, Issue 07, www.swimmingcoach.org.