Mental Toughness: Improvement Through Self-Talk

 In Sport Psychology

Mental Toughness: Improvement through self talkHow do we improve our Mental Toughness?

One of my favorite ways is through self-talk. Self-talk is your inner monologue, that pep talk you give yourself right before you do something difficult.   But what make self-talk so effective??

Its All About Emotions

Using self-talk helps with controlling your emotions. There are three types of responses that encompass emotions:

  • Mental: such as changes in attention, perception, and information processing priorities
  • Physiological: such as changes in breathing and heart rate
  • Behavioral: such as increasing the intensity of actions

Emotions make you aware of  the possible challenges and your immediate priorities. Emotions could aid performance through their associated “action tendency.” This means your emotions propel you to follow your gut. So, emotions might increase processes that provide extra energy to help you put more effort into your performance. When performing under pressure, self-talk helps you control your emotions and can help alter your perspective of the task at hand.

What does Self- Talk do for You?

Self-talk helps you produce more confidence, which often results in a better performance.

However, self-talk is perceived to be beneficial because it takes no special skills to learn. Brief motivational pep-talks can help you produce enough positive thoughts to affect a positive outcome in terms of performance.

How Can You Use Self-Talk?

One of my favorite sayings is: “Thoughts become things.”  If you doubt yourself, that sort of negativity will ultimately ruin you.  If you let your emotions and nerves get the best of you under pressure, you can bet it won’t be your best performance.   I see this happen all the time with weightlifters.  They see the weight, and its more than they’ve ever lifted.  Maybe practice didn’t go very well. Maybe there’s something going on in their life that’s distracting. All of these things create an overwhelming sense of doubt.

When you feel even the slightest bit of doubt, stress, or nerves, tell yourself something positive.

You got this.

If you’re looking for help with your mindset with your training, competing, or any aspect of your sport contact me here and we can work together to build your mental toughness.




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Blanchfield, A. W., Hardy, J., Majella De Morree, H., Staiano, W., and Marcora, S. (2014). Talking yourself out of exhaustion: the effects of self-talk on endurance performance. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 46, 998–1007. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000184

Cumming, J., and Williams, S. E. (2012). “Imagery: the role of imagery in performance,” in Handbook of Sport and Performance Psychology, ed S. Murphy (New York, NY: Oxford University Press), 213–232.

Lane, A. M., Beedie, C. J., Jones, M. V., Uphill, M., and Devonport, T. J. (2012). The BASES Expert Statement on emotion regulation in sport. J. Sports Sci.30, 1189–1195. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2012.693621

Lazarus, R. S. (2000). How emotions influence performance in competitive sports. Sport Psychol. 14, 229–252.

Thelwell, R. (2015). “Applied sport psychology: enhancing performance using psychological skills training,” in Sport and Exercise Psychology: Topics in Applied Psychology, ed A. M. Lane (London: Taylor & Francis), 1–6.
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