A Positive Attitude Can Improve Sports Performance

Young woman boxing in urban setting

One factor that many athletes overlook is the role that attitude plays in sports performance.  And it's true that if you are dealing with injuries, on a losing streak, or being criticized by your coach, it very well may be  challenging to have a happy, positive outlook. There are, however, some strategies you can use to reduce your negativity and regain proper perspective.

Mental skills trainer, Carrie Cheadle reminds athletes that you won't feel happy all the time, nor should you.

 All  emotion plays an important role in life. But emotions also affect cognitive functioning, energy levels, and enjoyment of life, so it's important to foster positivity and happiness when you can, and reduce negative mindsets and limiting beliefs.

Carrie offers the following two tips  for athletes to help limit habitual negative thinking  and deliberately strengthening a more positive outlook both on and off the field:

  1. Change your mood: When you are triggered into a bad mood, try to shift your mood to see if you can shift your perspective. Stop what you are doing and go put on your favorite song and turn it up LOUD. Or close your eyes and imagine that one of your most favorite people in the whole world just walked through your front door. Or think back and reminisce in detail about one of your sporting highlights - best performance ever. Try it out and just see how changing your mood can help change your mind.
  1. Take a week (or more) off from bad news: We are constantly bombarded with negative stories and negative images, which contribute to that "I'm too full with negativity" feeling. Take some time off from the news to give yourself a break from that negative barrage. Want to take it a step further? Replace the regular "bad news" articles and newscasts you would normally consume and read an article about an inspiring athlete or watch some stand up comedy in its place.


    Self-Talk and Sports Performance

    Other skills an athlete can practice to lift out of negativity have to do with the messages they tell themselves, or 'self-talk.' Ongoing research in sports psychology continues to find support that  practicing positive self talk can improve sports performance. Sports psychologists explain this link by pointing to the idea that thoughts create beliefs that ultimately drive actions. In this way, if we are better able to control, or manage, our thoughts, we may be better able to improve our behaviors and ultimately, our sports performance.

    Some common ways to practice positive self talk include reciting a positive mantra, and using visualization exercises in which you mentally rehearse a positive outcome.

    Learn more about how to start developing positive self talk.

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