How this Self-Talk Hurts Athletic Potential 

How this Self-Talk Hurts Athletic Potential

What is the most challenging obstacle that holds an athlete back from their potential?

You can probably rattle off a list of obstacles, such as lack of confidence, access to training, inexperienced coaching, genetics, fear of failure, etc.

Of course, genetics, training, and coaching are important. However, you can find resources to overcome these challenges, improve your conditioning, and build technical skills.

Likewise, skills such as confidence, focus, and overcoming fear can be improved upon through mental training.

The most significant blockage to maximum achievement is the limits you place on yourself.

Self-limits usually are expressed as “I can’t” or “I won’t” statements.

Examples of self-limiting statements include:

  • “I can’t beat that opponent.”
  • “I won’t make the varsity team.”
  • “I won’t make a national cut this year.”
  • “I can’t make this shot.”
  • “I won’t be a starter this season.”

“If you tell yourself you “can’t” or “won’t” enough times, you will accomplish less than you are capable of achieving. In other words, you will convince yourself you cannot succeed.

If you believe you cannot succeed, you won’t be motivated to improve your skills, push yourself in practice, develop your mental skills, or find ways outside of training to lift your game to the next level.

Instead of talking yourself out of succeeding, you can open yourself to your athletic potential by convincing yourself of your capacity to succeed.

Here is the sticking point for most athletes. Many athletes feel they are lying when they tell themselves they can achieve considerable accomplishments.

To counter this misconception, let’s look at two points.

  1. Most of the time, limited beliefs are not steeped in reality. In most cases, “I can” is more realistic than “I can’t.” In other words, your potential is much more realistic than you think.
  2. Telling yourself “you can” is not lying to yourself but the foundation of building a case for yourself. You can build confidence by using evidence-based statements, such as, “I’ve been working hard. My technique has improved over the last two months. I crushed it in my last competition. If I work on my leg strength and endurance, I can finish competitions stronger.”

San Antonio Spurs rookie Victor Wembanyama made NBA history by posting a ‘5×5’ stat line, where players record at least five points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks in a single game.

Though the Spurs lost to the Los Angeles Lakers, Wembanyama finished with 27 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists, 5 steals, and 5 blocks in just 31 minutes. At the midway point of the 2023-24 season, Wembanyama leads all rookies in points, rebounds, steals, and blocks.

After the game, Lebron James commented on Wembanyama’s potential.

JAMES: “He [Wembanyama] doesn’t have a ceiling. He can do whatever he wants to do in his career. It seems like he enjoys the game. It seems he puts the work in, just from the outside looking in.”

When you recognize you have much more to achieve, working towards your potential becomes a challenge worthy of the effort.

After you set an athletic goal, brainstorm evidence supporting that you will achieve your goals. Remember, beliefs can either limit or expand your athletic ceiling.

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