Don’t Underestimate The Power Of Self Talk

By October 31, 2016Between The Lines

Kimberly Hildreth

Your entire life, you’ve focused on technique, strength building, teamwork and diet. The beauty of volleyball, especially beach, is that naturally there is an emphasis on mental stability during game time. Sports psychology is such an important element of athletics, whether you are playing on the amateur or professional level, and it is one of the toughest elements to master.

What Is Self Talk?

When you are going about your day, ever notice an inner dialogue constantly running through your head? Ever take the time to really stop and actively listen to it? This is the first step – notice this voice. The next step is to notice how this voice sounds. Is it soothing? Is it supportive? Is it competitive? Aggressive? Hurtful? Discouraging? Often times, as competitive athletes, these voices can be destructive, telling ourselves we are incapable of accomplishing something. Maybe you are running a 5k and someone darts past you. Immediately that voice gets loud, anxious and worked up and before you know it you are talking yourself down. While it may seem impractical, replacing negative talk with positive talk repetitiously will improve your chances at succeeding – so long as it is a realistic goal. There are two reasons for this:

  1. There aren’t immediate results to reinforce the thoughts.
  2. If you can’t truly believe it,  you can’t improve self-esteem.

Here are some step-by-step ways to help you improve your attitude:


Before embarking on a goal, mentally envision yourself succeeding at just that. As a society, we are very image-driven – our minds have an easier time processing visuals. Pair that with supporting words, transforming a dream into a belief.

Find A Mantra

If you break down the word mantra into two parts, it means: “man” which means mind and “tra” which means transport or vehicle. A mantra is meant to help you use your mind as a vehicle for change. Think of a mantra as a means of mobilizing an intention. Mantras are nurtured and developed over time to help guide one towards a specific goal. Mantras also help one to stay present and not lose site of the goal by distracting thoughts. Choose a mantra that is easy to remember so you can continue repeating it. Some examples include:

“Precision and performance”
“Strong, fast, quick, light, fierce”
“Breathe, believe, battle”
“Aim for excellence, not perfection”
“Why not you, why not us”
“I am focused in competition”
“I am sure”
“My training is right”
“I have done this before”
“My defense is spectacular”
“I am going to win”
“I battle till the end”

Create Scenarios

Find different mantras that work for different scenarios during a game. Match a visualization with those mantras and you are set for positive reinforcement. During training practice, these scenarios repetituously until it becomes automatic.