Everyone has an inner voice which can be either helpful or unhelpful – the angel on one shoulder (helpful) and the devil on the other (unhelpful). It is vital to remember that the devil is only your brain playing tricks on you and to pay more attention to the angel! As Ralph Charrell (US author) wrote: “The inner speech, your thoughts, can cause you to be rich or poor, loved or unloved, happy or unhappy, attractive or unattractive, powerful or weak.” It is a very important skill to learn to re-structure your thoughts whenever a negative one creeps into your mind. A good tool to remember is TEA time:

  • Thoughts
  • Emotions
  • Actions

Your thoughts affect your emotions which affect your actions. So, if you have negative thoughts, you will feel negative emotionally and consequently your actions/behaviour/performance will suffer. If you can replace the negatives with positives the opposite will be true, leading to good performance. Fill in the template below (an example is also provided). It is important to remember that you do not need to memorise the individual phrases, but just get into the habit of changing those bad thoughts into good ones. As with all the interventions discussed you should use them as often as possible in all different situations in order for them to become automatic e.g. the next time someone cuts you up on the road!

Self Talk (example)

Negative Thought/Statements                                      Positive Thoughts/ Statements

Too much pressure                                                                    Be patient, let training take over

Want a quick finish                                                                   Patience, don’t rush

“this isn’t going to plan”                                                           Relax, restructure, reactivate

Getting shouted at                                                                      Zone it out

Panicking                                                                                     Patience, I’m better than that

Feeling tired/ weak                                                                    Trust the preparation

“What we think or say is critical to performance. Unfortunately, the conscious mind is not always an ally. We all spend vast amounts of time talking to ourselves.” Brainstorm as many negative thoughts as possible and then provide a positive equivalent (on similar format to below). Remember: TEA time: Thoughts affect your Emotions which affect your Actions

It may also be useful to pre-empt any situations that may arise that you may react badly to and how you could react in a positive way. You can use imagery to visualise yourself successfully overcoming these issues. I have given some more examples below, but you can tailor this to your personal needs. There is extra space for your own ideas:

Situation                                                                                        The perfect athlete responds by…

Inconsistent refereeing

Unfair criticism

Recovering from injury

Making mistakes

Crowd pressure

Dips in form

Intimidation by opponents