This Spring I've tried to post the occasional blog about specific issues that have arisen during training or tournaments... They're intended more to raise awareness of different ideas rather than a major treatise and this one was in response to a lesson I took yesterday with one of our best U/17's....
Positive self-talk is a powerful tool that can help young athletes boost their confidence, motivation, and performance. Fair to say, self-talk can influence athletes' perceptions of their abilities, increase their mental toughness, and help them overcome obstacles and setbacks (Hatzigeorgiadis, Zourbanos, Galanis, & Theodorakis, 2011).
Firstly, positive self-talk can help young athletes develop a growth mindset, which is the belief that their abilities can improve with practice and effort. By using positive affirmations, such as "I can do this" or "I am getting better every day," young athletes can shift their focus from their limitations to their potential. This mindset can help them develop resilience, perseverance, and a willingness to take risks and learn from failure (Dweck, 2008).
Secondly, positive self-talk can help young athletes manage their emotions and reduce anxiety before and during competitions. By using calming phrases, such as "stay calm" or "take deep breaths," they can regulate their arousal levels and maintain a sense of control over their performance (Vealey, 2010). This can help them perform at their best, even under pressure... although perhaps we could be a little more innovative with the phrases!
Thirdly, positive self-talk can help young athletes stay motivated and committed to their goals. By using goal-oriented phrases, such as "I will work hard to achieve my goal" or "I am committed to my training," they can reinforce their dedication to their sport and stay focused on their long-term objectives (Weinberg & Gould, 2015). This can help them stay engaged and motivated, even when facing challenges or setbacks.
Positive self-talk is helpful tool for young athletes to develop their confidence, motivation, and mental toughness. By using positive affirmations, calming phrases, and goal-oriented language, they can improve their mindset, manage their emotions, and stay committed to their goals. Parents, coaches, and teachers can play a vital role in promoting positive self-talk in young athletes by modeling and reinforcing the use of positive language.
As always, if some of this resonates, bring it up with one of the coaches next time you're in the club or in your next private lesson and we can discuss how to make it more individual to your stage of development. See you all at training!
References: Dweck, C. (2008). Mindset: The new psychology of success. Random House Digital, Inc. Hatzigeorgiadis, A., Zourbanos, N., Galanis, E., & Theodorakis, Y. (2011). Self-talk and sports performance: A meta-analysis. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 6(4), 348-356. Vealey, R. S. (2010). Mental skills training in sport. In G. Tenenbaum, R. C. Eklund, & A. Kamata (Eds.), Measurement in sport and exercise psychology (pp. 219-236). Human Kinetics. Weinberg, R. S., & Gould, D. (2015). Foundations of sport and exercise psychology. Human Kinetics.