The Power of Positive Self-Talk for Competitors

When it comes to competing, your mindset can make all the difference. Positive self-talk is a powerful tool that can boost your performance on game day. It’s about changing how you talk to yourself, making sure your inner dialogue supports and empowers you.

Why Positive Self-Talk Matters

Often, we speak to ourselves in ways we would never dare to speak to others. We criticize, doubt, and undermine our abilities. This negative self-talk can severely impact performance, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy where we fail because we expect to. Instead, we need to be kind to ourselves and nurture a supportive inner voice.

The Art of Reframing

One crucial aspect of positive self-talk is reframing—changing negative thoughts into positive ones. Reframing isn’t just about swapping words; it’s about overwriting the negativity with empowering thoughts.

Steps to Master Positive Self-Talk

1. Record Your Negative Thoughts

Start by identifying and recording your negative thoughts. Think about the doubts and criticisms you have regarding your performance (e.g., “I’m not good enough”). Write them down and stay alert to any new negative thoughts that arise.

2. Analyze Each Thought

Examine each negative thought. Ask yourself:

  • Is this a fact or an assumption?
  • Does this thought help or hinder me?

Pretend you’re helping a friend with these thoughts. This outsider’s perspective can help you see more clearly.

3. Challenge the Thought

Create a list of evidence for and against the thought. Look for alternative interpretations and counterexamples. For instance, if you think you’re too old to compete, find examples of older athletes who are still excelling.

4. Reframe the Thought

Reframe the thought in a positive, constructive way. Your new thought should focus on strengths and desired outcomes. Here’s a simple formula:

  • Identify a strength (actual or desired)
  • State the positive outcome of that strength


  • “I am persistent (strength) and I never give up (outcome).”
  • “I am focused (strength) and my technique is precise (outcome).”

Creating and Using Positive Thought Cards

Once you have reframed your negative thoughts, create positive thought cards. Write the negative thought on one side of an index card and the positive statement on the other. Repeat this for all your negative thoughts until you have a collection of cards.

Incorporate these cards into your daily routine. Review the negative thought first, then try to recall the positive statement without looking at the back of the card, similar to flashcards you might have used in school.

Example Cards

Putting It into Practice

These cards won’t magically erase your negative thoughts overnight, but they will prepare you to counter them with positive ones when they arise. Practice regularly and over time, you’ll find that positive self-talk becomes second nature. This shift can significantly enhance your performance, helping you achieve your best on competition day.

Positive self-talk is a skill that takes time to develop, but with patience and persistence, you can transform your inner dialogue and elevate your performance. Start today, be kind to yourself, and watch how your mindset—and your results—improve.

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