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Silencing a Negative Internal Voice

Silencing a Negative Internal Voice

Thanks to Spencer Wood for sharing this helpful advice.

As the season progresses, one common solution coaches must try to fix is silencing the negative voice inside of a players’ head.

The quick response to this common problem among athletes from all sports is that an athlete must first identify the type of thoughts that most commonly occur for that athlete. I always encourage athlete to write down/journal their most common thoughts for one week. Many of the doubts and negative thoughts we have are simply irrational, and it is only after we get some of these thoughts on paper do we realize just how irrational they are. This exercise alone will begin to silence the negative voice.

However, I encourage athletes to go one step further with this exercise. First, I encourage athletes to write a ‘counter-thought’ for every negative thought. For example, an athlete might think “I don’t belong out here….I just don’t have what it takes to bring my ‘A’ game and compete against this team we are about to play”…..or… “I choked in the last game under pressure…I don’t want the ball again under pressure today” or a similar set of thoughts. Counter-thoughts might sound like “I have been doubted before, but I have proven my ability to compete at this level over and over” …or “The greatest who have ever played this game have made mistakes….the last game has no effect on this game….I am iron tough…and tough players want the ball with the game on the line” etc.

When the athlete captures the doubts on paper and writes the counter thought responses to every doubt, they will be ready to respond mentally if their mind drifts to that doubt. An additional recommendation I make is to make a note of the time, date, event or trigger that typically is responsible for the doubt or irrational thought.   When an athlete completes this task, they become very aware of their triggers, the timing of those triggers and also the ideal response to those triggers, and are able to put a plate of mental armor around their mind that doubts and irrational thoughts will have a harder time penetrating.

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