The biggest enemy most of us will ever face is ourselves. Negative self talk serves as a barrier that prevents many individuals from ever achieving their maximum potential. It is the job of us athletes to tame the real mean person that lives inside of our head, so we can focus on being the best person we can be.
Recently we interviewed all of our top AMANZI athletes, and we asked them how they deal with negativity. The following were some of our favorite answers that we thought would benefit swimmers and non-swimmers alike! You can read how these professionals deal with mental negativity below. For bonus material, you can follow the link on their names to see the rest of the interview to really get to know what makes these Amanzi athletes tick!
What’s your best advice for dealing with mental negativity? How do you get out of your own head?
- A quote that my coach told me, something along the lines of “whether you think you can or can’t, you’re probably right” – always believe in yourself and your ability. Georgia Davies (Swimmer)
- Don’t think about the past in a bad way think of it as something you can improve on, as you can always better what you do if you keep going at it and doing the right things. Ellie Faulkner (Swimmer)
- “I use a method created by Dr Steve Peters (psychiatrist to British Cycling & Team Sky) in his book ‘The Chimp Paradox’. Basically, anything negative that comes into your head is classified as a ‘threat’ or getting ‘hijacked by your chimp’. I will go through my ‘threats’ with my coach before each race and counter them. For example, perhaps a threat for me would be, ‘what if I don’t have my run legs when I jump off the bike?’ This would be countered with, ‘that is just silly, you have been running really well in training/doing lots of brick sessions, there is no reason why this would happen.’ So each and every threat gets countered and you can go into the race knowing that you’ve dealt with all those little voices.” Gillian Sanders (Triathlete)
- “Control the controllable and focus on the processes rather than the outcome. Such as telling yourself to keep a high elbow and strong catch in the swim rather than just thinking ‘swim faster, swim faster’.” Tamsyn Moana-Veale (Triathlete)
- “The self-doubts and anxieties are hard to beat sometimes in competitive sport, especially if you are in a bad mindset. Firstly think to yourself, why do I do this sport? Why do I train hard every day? Your answer should be because you love it, not just to please someone, but because you enjoy it. I used to battle with this because I forgot about what I wanted, simply trying to please others and forgetting how much I love surf myself! If you enjoy your sport, your next step is to begin building your positive self-talk. Everything begins in the head, and if you can think it you can do it! Rather than being down on yourself after a race, think of what you can do better for next time. So enjoy your sport, think positive, and smile! The doubt you feel will be gone before you know it.” Brittany Jessup (Surf Lifesaver)
- “Don’t over think and just focus on what you need to do.” Holly Grice (Triathlete)