The Power of Positive Language within Sports Psychology

Sports Psychologists have for a long time understood the importance of positive language.  I was out on the golf course in Newcastle recently and was watching a golfer who often misses their putt at critical moments, and yet the strokes are well within her capability.  Everything’s ok until she reaches the green.  Then, as she prepares for her stroke she say’s to herself, ‘I mustn’t miss!’, over and over again.  So what happens?  She misses.  The reason is that when she says ‘I mustn’t miss’, her mind must first think of her missing before she can think of herself not missing.

Try this for yourself – don’t think of a blue tree!  DON’T!!!

What did you think of?

It’s well known in sports psychology circles that ‘Where the attention goes the energy flows’.  That split second of thinking about missing creates a mental picture or message which her muscles act upon – so she misses off – a self fulfilling prophecy.

I was mountain biking with some friends recently who were concerned that they might hit a particular rock and crash out.  Sure enough, they concentrated on the rock and were drawn towards it like a magnet.  What happened is that their mind created a powerful image which their body acted upon.

Words are very powerful, so use this to your advantage and use positive language instead.  Notice the times you are thinking about what you don’t want instead of what you do want, and work out how you can change the thought so it expresses what you do want.

When you’re next performing, notice the times you and those around you express things negatively by saying what they don’t want to happen.  How can this be changed into a positive statement to say what they do want?  As you continue to practice this it will start to happen automatically, and if you catch yourself setting a negative goal simply ask yourself, ‘want do I want to happen instead?’

Here are some examples of negative phrases and what you might say instead.

Negative Phrase                                                    Positive Phrase

I won’t do this wrong                                            I’ll do this right

Don’t miss it                                                        Hit it

Don’t be tense                                                       Relax

This won’t stop me                                           I will keep going

Don’t worry                                                   Be confident

Don’t look down                                                   Look up

Don’t think in negatives                                        Think in positives

So now you just need to go out and practice, but don’t do it all the time, and don’t think about how much more positive your attitude will become as a result!Contact me to find out how I can help you develop your skills in positive thinking.

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