UNDERSTANDING SELF TALKDamon Burton & Bernie HollidayVandal Sport Psychology Services University of Idaho
WHAT IS SELF TALK?The steady stream of on-goingthoughts or internal dialogue thatgoes on in our minds constantlyYour self talk influences your moods,emotions, and ultimately yourbehavior
THREE CHARACTERISTICS OF SELF TALK…rationality Trained minds learn to think more positively, logically, and systematically.specificity Self talk becomes conditioned to success and failure events, changing dramatically based on the mindset created in particular situations.automaticity Extensive repetition creates highly automatic thoughts, called beliefs. Automaticity of self talk is a two-edged sword when examining its impact on performance.
SELF TALK ABC’S…A = Activating Event No Inherently stressful situations or events “ W e a r e n o t d is t u r b e d b y t h in g s , b u t b y t h e v ie w s o f w h ic h w e t a k e o f t h e m ” – E p ic t e t u sB = Belief about the Event Athletes attach positive or negative meanings to neutral events based on their highly automatic belief systemC = Consequences Our beliefs about the event lead to positive or negative consequences, both emotionally and behaviorallyThus, the meaning that we attach to events canpositively or negatively impact our emotions,behaviors, and ultimately our performance
DOES SELF TALK WORK?Self talk patterns have been shown to beimportant predictors of sport successPositive self talk predominates in moreeffective performances, while negativethoughts more frequently accompanypoorer performances Hardy et al. (2005) Self Talk reviewMental training packages that include selftalk training as part of the interventionpromote enhanced performance over 80%of the time
REPROGRAMMING SELF TALK…Reactive versus proactive approaches toenhancing athletes’ self talk Most athletes prefer proactive approaches to self talk reprogramming, rather than “old school” reactive approachesThe key to the proactive approach is toidentify and create positive, facilitatingthoughts (e.g., reprogramming) that canenhance athletes’ emotions and performance Self talk scripts are effective thought reprogramming tools
TYPES OF SELF TALK… Positive Affirmations thoughts that focus on your desirable characteristics and qualities Goals thoughts that keep your mind positively focused on the task-at-hand, promote high effort, and enhance persistence Appraisals thoughts that determine the degree to which a situation is perceived as threatening or challenging Self talk reprogramming promotes appraising problems as challenges or opportunities to learn and grow rather than threats and opportunities to fail
TYPES OF SELF TALK… Attributions Reasons or explanations of success and failure Self talk reprogramming encourages performers to attribute success and failure to factors they can control and change, such as effort, ability, and degree of preparedness Cue Words Quick reminders used during practice and competition Keep the mind positively focused on process- oriented, present-focused reminders that should facilitate performance
USES OF SELF TALK… Elevate Motivation Intrinsic motivation occurs when athletes feel competent and in control. Self talk reprogramming should emphasize these factors Enhance Focus/Concentration Self talk helps athletes focus on their priorities and goals, rather than on distractions Manage Stress Controlling self talk, particularly limiting negative or self-defeating thoughts, helps to minimize the amount of stress athletes experience
USES OF SELF TALK…Boost Self-Confidence Persuasive self talk can convince athletes that they possess the competence and preparation to be successfulMaximize Skill Development andPerformance Cues and goals can help athletes remain focused on performance-relevant cues while disregarding and avoiding irrelevant distracter cues during skill development and performance
“SMART TALK” COMMANDMENTS1. Be an optimist, not a pessimist ♦ Self talk is a choice. Choose the “half full” option. See situations as challenges rather than threats.2. Remain realistic and objective ♦ Think constructively, not just positively3. Focus on the present -- “Here-n-now” self talk ♦ Avoid “woulda, coulda, shoulda’s,” and “what if’s”4. Appraise problems as challenges rather than threats • See problems as opportunities to learn
“SMART TALK” COMMANDMENTS5. View successes as replicable and failures as surmountable See success as due to ability and effort not luck6. Concentrate on process not product Process is controllable and product is not7. Concentrate self talk on “controllables” Possibly the single most important factor Make a list of what you can control in sport. Make a list of what you can’t control8. Separate performance from self-worth We are not our performance
HOW TO REPROGRAM SELF TALK… Focus on appropriate positive thoughts and repeat those thoughts frequently Athletes are urged to develop self talk scripts that can target one or more specific needs using a variety of self talk types as well as the more general guidelines outlined by the “Smart Talk Commandments” Scripts offer athletes a tool that can be used to reprogram positive self talk
CORRECTINGUNPRODUCTIVE THINKING…Extremely difficult to changenegative thoughts due to theirhighly automatic nature.However, irrational beliefs andcognitive distortions are learnedbehaviors, so they can beunlearned.
“THE CRITIC”“The Critic” has your life planned out in detail andcastigates you whenever you break one of theunwritten rules you’re suppose to live by.“The critic” calls you names (e.g., stupid, untalented,slacker, weak, slow, selfish).It reads others’ minds and tells you they consider youwanting because they’re bored, frustrated, threatenedor unhappy.“The critic” exaggerates the size and impact of yourweaknesses, and uses your values against you (e.g.,“good players always play hurt.”)“The critic” is the most negative part of each of us,and it hits you where it hurts, where your self-esteemis low.
DEALING WITHNEGATIVE THOUGHTSD1 = Detect • Self-awareness of unconscious thought patternsD2 = Disrupt • Thought stoppingD3 = Dispute • Reframing using counterargumentsE = New & more beneficialeffects
DETECTING NEGATIVE THOUGHTS…cognitive distortions are generaltypes of faulty thinkingirrational beliefs are more specific,but highly automated, negativethoughts that create behavioral andemotional problems for athletes
COMMON COMPETITIVECOGNITIVE DISTORTIONSCatastrophizing expecting the worst exaggerating the consequencesOvergeneralization forming conclusions based on insufficient informationBlaming not accepting responsibility for mistakesMusturbation must’s, should’s, and ought to’s a form of concrete, inflexible, and unforgiving thinkingPolarized thinking good or bad, right or wrong, succeed or fail, etc. leaves little room for mistakes or being human
COMMON COMPETITIVE IRRATIONAL BELIEFSFear of Failure “It is terrible and unbearable when my game is not the way I want it to be”Social Approval “I must win the approval of others and impress everyone who sees me perform” control-based irrational belief
COMMON COMPETITIVE IRRATIONAL BELIEFSPerfectionism “I should be completely competent in every aspect of my game at all times, never have ups and downs, and never make mistakes” The team that makes the most mistakes usually wins – Coach John Wooden’s philosophy on playing hard and mistakes Mistakes are a normal and necessary part of learning
COMMON COMPETITIVE IRRATIONAL BELIEFSEquity “Life should be fair and if I diligently work at my game, I should improve, play well, and get the rewards I deserve” Life is not fair! Hard work increases your chances of success, but there are no guarantees.Social comparison “The behavior and performance of other competitors is extremely important to me and can destroy my game” Cannot control others’ performances nor can they control your own performance
DISRUPTING NEGATIVE THOUGHTS…Thought stopping uses intense internalcues such as a word, image,kinesthetic movement (e.g., snapping arubber band), or some combination ofcues. Stop the stream of negative thoughts as quickly as possible so you can begin focusing on reframing the situation.
COUNTERARGUMENTS TODISPUTE NEGATIVE THOUGHTSproductive way to view the situationput your negative thoughts on trialargue why the negative belief isirrational and unproductive andprovide a more logical and helpfulview of the situationCounterarguments are solutions, notcover-ups!!