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Creating The Competitive Inner Dialogue

"Only he who can see the invisible can do the impossible." - Frank L. Gaines

In the past few blogs we provided tips on how to motive before practice and competition by using music and highlight videos to hype you up and to boost confidence.

This time, let’s take a moment to become aware of negative self talk / self doubt. Negative self talk is the inner dialogue we have with ourselves. It can become so ingrained, we may not even hear ourselves saying it.

It can be a knee jerk reaction like, “I can’t, I’m not good at that,” “No, that’s too hard,” or “I don’t want to look like an idiot, so I don’t want to try that.” Throughout the day, take note of your negative self talk.

Keep count on your phone, if you are at practice or competition, take a mental note then add it to your total after practice.

At the end of the day, total up the number of negative comments you made. You may surprise yourself with the number of negative comments you make. Do this for two or three days to identify and become more aware of your negative self talk habits.

Awareness is the key. Being able to catch moments of negative self talk is the first step.


"Relentless, repetitive self talk is what changes your self image." - Denis Waitley

Negative self talk is the inner dialogue we have with ourselves. It can become so ingrained, we may not even hear ourselves saying it. It’s these internal thoughts and comments we tell ourselves that lead to pre-performance anxiety / pre-performance jitters.

As you take note of your Negative Self Talk (NST), 👏 recognize that you are taking active steps toward improving your mindset and overcoming NST.


Tips For Improving Self Talk

1. Be Positive

Positive statements lead to positive outcomes. Consistently making positive statements to yourself, be it in your head or out loud makes it believable. So make it a habit to change a negative thought to a positive thought.

2. Believe It

Positive thoughts lead to positive outcomes. The more you train your brain to lead with a positive thought or counter a negative thought, the more you wire your brain to be focused on what’s possible vs impossible.

3. Present Moment

Reinforce a positive statement with a positive action. For example, when a female volleyball player is serving, she says, “You’ve got this!” This reminds her that she has a strong serve, that she’s practiced a million times, and to stay focused on technique to aim where she wants the ball to go.

4. Problem Solve

When things go wrong, self talk is the reminder to stick to the game plan and to trust the process.

5. Create 1-2 positive phrases like:

a. “You’ve got this,” for the moments when you feel unsure of yourself.

b. “I am speed,” to remind you to play hard and play fast the whole game.

Positive Self talk is the key to staying focused, confidence, and motivated.


"Your body hears everything your mind says." - Naomi Judd

Self talk is the inner dialogue we have with ourselves. Our goal is to create self talk habits that help us perform at our best, fuel our confidence, and make us excited to compete.

What happens when things start to unravel during performance?

Dr. Robin Vealey explains how thoughts become P3 or R3 based mindsets.

The following is taken from an article written by Sam Shweisky:

A golfer arrives 45 minutes late to competition due to heavy traffic and has less than 15 minutes to warm-up.

An athlete with the R3 mindset will respond in one of three ways:


1. Random: “I feel rushed and unfocused.”


2. Reactive: “This is not fair!”


3. Restrictive: “I can’t get ready to play this quickly.”


On the other hand, an athlete with a P3 mindset acts in one of the following ways:


1. Purposeful: “Focus on the most important things you need to get ready. Warm-up your shoulder and take a few good swings.”


2. Productive: “Focus on what you can control and get the most out of the limited warm-up.”


3. Possibility: “Who knows, maybe a reduced warm up will make you play better!”


Be aware of which R3 response you use and what P3 mindset is most helpful for you in those moments.


Don’t wait till a performance to figure this out. Prepare by practicing these situations and learning from challenges you’ve faced in past.

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