Your Internal Talk and Peak Performance
Do you tend to be excessively self-critical? After every mistake, error, or bad game, do you put yourself down?
Excessive self-criticism leads to fractured confidence, low motivation, and underperformance.
Constant self-criticism is a loop: bad performance… excessive self-criticism… low confidence and motivation… poor performance…
Breaking the cycle starts with changing your self-talk.
When you are playing below your ability, of course, you will be upset. You may be critical of your lapse in focus or judgment after a couple of wild pitches, throwing errors, or mistakes. While doubts may pop up during a three-game hitting slump. These are normal reactions.
When you dedicate a lot of time and effort, you want to see the fruits of your labor. Initial emotional responses are a sign that you care.
The issue is not your initial response to a bad game. The problem is your persistent negative response.
When you bombard your mind with negative criticism, one bad game turns into two, three, or four bad games. A hit-less game turns into a slump. Booting an easy grounder leads to more errors.
In reality, what does hyper self-criticism do for you? Does it make you a better ballplayer? Is there any benefit to being overcritical of yourself?
Stopping the cycle by changing your self-talk is the first step in getting back on track.
Think of what you would say to a teammate who was struggling. Would you tell them that they should quit? Would you tell your struggling teammate they will probably underperform for the rest of the season?
No! You would highlight their strengths. You would tell them to keep working hard. You would say to them they will break through soon.
If you would feed a struggling teammate positive messages, you should tell yourself the same messages.
Baltimore Orioles manager Brandon Hyde has been feeding positive messages to rookie catcher Adley Rutschman. Rutschman has been disappointed with his early performance at the major league level. Rutschman is batting .149 in 12 games since being promoted from Triple-A and has been charged with two throwing errors.
Still, Hyde fully keeps feeding Rutschman messages to get his offense on track. Hyde is confident Rutschman will be a solid major league player.
HYDE: “I told [Rutschman] when he first got here, ‘I just want you to relax. It’s going to be impossible to relax, but relax as best you possibly can and have fun with it… It just takes adjustments, and it takes a little bit of time, and he’s doing just fine.”
Hyde knows that positive messages lead to positive performance.
HYDE: “I know how hard it’s going to be and difficult it is, and he just has to kind of get over the early stage of being a major league player. It’s not easy. I just think support, that’s what we’re going to do, and that’s what we’re here for is to stay positive with him.”
When you send yourself the message to be patient, you will be more patient in games. When you tell yourself you can succeed at the next level, you will perform better.
Talk to yourself, in the same manner you would to a struggling teammate.
Develop the positive self-talk off the field that you can use on the field such as “stay patient, let the game come to me.”
Related Sports Psychology Articles
- The Mindset to Perform at a Higher Level
- Having Fun While Performing at Your Best
- The Importance of Mental Toughness
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Can you experience yourself right now walking out onto the court, diamond, course, or playing field with complete conviction in your ability and unwavering confidence beaming like a bright light? Imagine feeling dominant, positive with only confident thoughts, and ready to take control of the game.
You can learn how to think like a champion and have ultimate self-confidence just like the pros. It’s not hard or impossible to achieve – I help athletes reach their goals every day and you, too, can learn the same strategies I teach to my students who pay me well over $1000 per day for personal coaching.