How to handle negative self-talk
If there is a game that is more mental than baseball, I don’t know what it is. What bothers me is that many people in the game approach the mental side of the game as something a player either has or doesn’t have as if it’s written in stone. We all know that there are drills and training techniques that can be used to address issues with a player’s physical game. The same thing applies to
the mental side as well.
There are a number of components to the mental side. Confidence is certainly one of them. We all know from our playing and/or coaching days that physical ability only goes so far when it comes to performance. If a player is very confident in their ability to get the job done, often they will perform better over time then physically gifted players who have no confidence in themselves.
One of the biggest problems these less-than-confident-players face is “negative self-talk.” They are often their worst enemy and end up fighting against that little voice in their head most of the time.
There are a number of techniques and tips players can do to help improve their confidence level and create a more positive conversation in their head.
The easiest one I know is to add a “but” onto every negative statement. Below are some negative self-talk statements a player might say to himself and then how a “but” can turn it around:
- I stink. That was the worst inning ever.
- I’m such a loser. I’ll never be any good.
- I’m an idiot. I can’t believe I swung at that pitch.
With a “but” added:
- I stink. That was the worst inning ever … but … I did throw a first pitch strike to each batter!
- I’m such a loser. I’ll never be any good at fielding … but … I did a good job of moving my feet to get in front of the ball.
- I’m an idiot. I can’t believe I swung at that pitch … but … I’m glad I was ready to swing the bat on the first pitch!
Adding a “but” immediately forces the player to think of something opposite (positive) in order to finish the statement. Eliminating all the negative self-talk in a player’s mind can take a long time and include many techniques and interventions. However, adding a “but” can be something a player pulls out of his pocket in the meantime to get him back on the positive track.
What other quick tips do you know of that help with confidence?