Sports Psychology Training: The Power of Postive Thoughts

September 19, 2012 | Jen Gapin, Ph.D., CC-AASP

Positive Thoughts

Self-talk. That "voice" inside your head. Most athletes are not aware of how much their thoughts, negative or positive, influence their performance. Negative thoughts cause a downward spiral of increased stress and anxiety, eventually resulting in poor performance. Positive thoughts do the opposite. Using sport psychology skills can increase positive thinking and can help an athlete regain focus after mistakes, build confidence and keep their head in the game. (It cost Adam Scott the British Open)

The Powerful Paper Clip 

This simple exercise is good for increasing awareness and frequency of self-talk. During a practice, carry around a number of paper clips in your left pocket and transfer one to your right pocket each time you have a negative thought. You will probably be amazed at the number of paper clips you have transferred and how those negative thoughts affected your performance.

Daily Self-Talk Log

This technique is particularly useful in helping to reveal situations that are problematic for performance. Once you find situations that cause negative self-talk, you can counter them with specific self-talk statements from sports psychology training to get you back on track thinking positive thoughts.

The log should include:

  • The situation that provoked the negative self-talk (e.g., striking out with the bases loaded, missing a clutch free throw)
  • The specific self-talk statements (e.g., "I can't believe I did that," "I never come through in this situation," "I messed up.")
  •  The emotional and performance consequences (e.g., anger, frustration, fear; missed shots, blown defensive assignments) of the self-talk statements.

Positive Affirmations

An affirmation is a strong, positive self-statement, spoken in the present tense, about a goal that has the potential to be realized. It's helpful if you use positive statements on a daily basis during practice to train your mind to think more positively. You can write positive affirmations on athletic tape and affix them to your training bag, equipment, locker, or uniform. Or you can write them on post-it notes or index cards and place them on your desk or nightstand so they are always visible.

Examples include: "I am ready for this competition," "I am strong," and "I am ready to do this."

Thought Stopping

Use a visual, verbal or physical cue to stop unwanted thoughts. For example, if you're running a 10K race and you think, "I'll never make it. I'm too tired," just picture a stop sign, say the word "stop," and snap your fingers to signal the end of the negative thought. The goal is to stop negative thoughts before they cause negative feelings and behaviors.

Changing Negative Thoughts to Positive Thoughts

Going one step further, you can prepare for difficult situations by practicing replacing negative thoughts with positive ones. For example, when you think, "I'll never make it. I'm too tired," you can replace it with a statements such as "I have trained hard for this. My pace is right on track."

If you use this type of sport psychology training in your daily routine, you will eventually see the connection between positive thoughts and successful performance.

Featured Videos

Tim Tebow's NFL Off-Season Workout Tim Tebow's NFL Off-Season Workout Views: 153,019
Path to the Pros 2015: Trae Waynes Path to the Pros 2015: Trae Waynes Views: 80,757
Path to the Pros 2015: Marcus Mariota Path to the Pros 2015: Marcus Mariota Views: 1,271,129
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds
Views: 43,718,086
Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied
Views: 12,170,372
Colin Kaepernick's Core Workout Colin Kaepernick's Core Workout
Views: 896,683
Robert Griffin III Pocket Presence QB Drill Robert Griffin III Pocket Presence QB Drill
Views: 6,866,292
Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill
Views: 9,501,437

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
How Mental Flexibility Boosts Your Game

How Mental Flexibility Boosts Your Game

How Mental Flexibility Boosts Your Game By Jim Carpentier, CSCS Demonstrating mental toughness can be just as powerful as physical toughness on the...

What's Your Backup Plan When 'Plan A' Fails?

What's Your Backup Plan When 'Plan A' Fails?

Stress Exposure Training for Basketball

Stress Exposure Training for Basketball

Home Field Advantage Is Real, Says Science

Home Field Advantage Is Real, Says Science

6 Ways Sport Parents Are Doing It Wrong

6 Ways Sport Parents Are Doing It Wrong

4 Tips for Building Confidence

4 Tips for Building Confidence

The Art of Strength and Conditioning Coaching

The Art of Strength and Conditioning Coaching

How Mentally Tough Are You?

How Mentally Tough Are You?

How Clayton Kershaw Gets in the Zone

How Clayton Kershaw Gets in the Zone

Why Athletes Must Focus on Developing Their Own Identity

Why Athletes Must Focus on Developing Their Own Identity

5 Steps to Becoming a Better Coach

5 Steps to Becoming a Better Coach

Does Home Field Actually Confer an Advantage?

Does Home Field Actually Confer an Advantage?

Unlock Your Full Athletic Potential

Unlock Your Full Athletic Potential

How to 'Keep Your Cool' on the Football Field

How to 'Keep Your Cool' on the Football Field

Study: Athletes Think Faster, More Accurately Than Non-Athletes

Study: Athletes Think Faster, More Accurately Than Non-Athletes

How Mental Performance Affects Your Workouts

How Mental Performance Affects Your Workouts

Positive Affirmations for Athletes

Positive Affirmations for Athletes

5 Tips to Becoming a Successful Athlete

5 Tips to Becoming a Successful Athlete

The One Word You Should Never Say to Yourself

The One Word You Should Never Say to Yourself

Q&A: How to Deal With a Tough Coach

Q&A: How to Deal With a Tough Coach

Overcome Your Fear of Failure

Overcome Your Fear of Failure

Using Sports Imagery as Pre-Performance Routine

Using Sports Imagery as Pre-Performance Routine

Build Mental Toughness in the Weight Room

Build Mental Toughness in the Weight Room

The Holistic Approach to Impactful Sports Coaching

The Holistic Approach to Impactful Sports Coaching

Regain Your Confidence by Getting BIG

Regain Your Confidence by Getting BIG

Tips for Keeping a Tennis Journal

Tips for Keeping a Tennis Journal

Can a Faster Brain Increase Sports Performance?

Can a Faster Brain Increase Sports Performance?

The Athletic Brain: How to Learn to Anticipate

The Athletic Brain: How to Learn to Anticipate

5 Tips for Playing Mentally Tough Tennis

5 Tips for Playing Mentally Tough Tennis

4 Reasons Your Team Is Losing

4 Reasons Your Team Is Losing

Get Tough on Your Goals to Get Fit

Get Tough on Your Goals to Get Fit

Growth Mindset: How to Think Like a Champion

Growth Mindset: How to Think Like a Champion

Use Sports Psychology Against Your Opponents

Use Sports Psychology Against Your Opponents

How to Improve Mental Focus on the Baseball Diamond

How to Improve Mental Focus on the Baseball Diamond

Why You Should Be Training Instead of Exercising

Why You Should Be Training Instead of Exercising

A Coach Describes What It’s Like to Cut Players

A Coach Describes What It's Like to Cut Players

Mental Warm-Up: How to Build Confidence Before a Game

Mental Warm-Up: How to Build Confidence Before a Game

Overcome the 5 Most Common Mental Mistakes in Sports

Overcome the 5 Most Common Mental Mistakes in Sports

3 Strategies to Reduce Stress and Increase Athletic Performance

3 Strategies to Reduce Stress and Increase Athletic Performance

YardBarker