Negative internal thoughts and feelings are a major factor in pre-competition jitters, competition anxiety, and poor performance. In mental skills training, the goal is to replace negative self-talk in your inner voice with more positive thoughts and mental images so that you experience more positive thoughts than negative ones.
An important factor in positive self-talk is that the athlete must believe that what they are saying to themself about how they want to perform and what they want to achieve is doable and believable. When this happens, there is strong evidence that using positive self-talk improves performance. Giving in to negative self-talk produces a destructive frame of mind that reduces the chances of an athlete getting into the zone, performing well, and winning.
You can improve your ability to use positive self-talk by creating simple mantras to deploy in different sporting situations. Examples of mantras are “Stay patient”, “Take one shot at a time”, “Don’t get ahead of yourself”. Create mental images of these different situations and practise using the mantras.