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Using Positive Self-Affirmations in Sports

artistic poster of people playing different sports Have you ever wondered why it seems that certain athletes succeed where others seem to struggle with success?

The people who succeed know how to program their minds for success, while others may be operating under a cloud of negative suggestions, statements or beliefs. The challenging news about what we say to ourselves is that these beliefs developed early in life and have become a regular method we use to communicate to ourselves. The good news is that this pattern can, with practice, be corrected.

The method of using positive self-affirmation, or positive self-talk to change your internal communication with yourself is simple. The process is so easy that it is often overlooked or underestimated as a powerful tool to help athletes with positive change and improved success.

What is a Positive Self-Talk Statement?

First, a self-talk statement is a statement you make to yourself all the time. The mind is always talking and advising you about who you are, how you should feel, and reinforcing the type of person you are or ought to be. A positive self-talk statement is a comment you make to yourself on a regular, frequent basis to reprogram your conscious mind with an idea, belief, reality or attitude that you choose for yourself.

How often have you doubted yourself either before or after an athletic performance or event? When you achieve success during athletic competition you are either excited and reward yourself with positive statements, or you might repeat negative statements to yourself like, “You choker,” or “Why can’t you get it right,” or “I can never seem to get this done the way I want to.”

Positive self-statements are a powerful way to replace negative “mind chatter” in your conscious mind. Mind chatter is an unproductive, unconscious guidance system outside of your awareness that controls your behavior with “value related statements.” If the mind is going to talk to you anyway, why not have the mind speak to you in a positive way. If we had conscious awareness of how we talk to ourselves, would it not makes sense to invest the time to make positive statements to ourselves rather than negative ones?

Why do Positive Self-Statements Produce Results?

Positive self-statements help to reprogram the mind. They are the nourishment the mind and personal self-esteem need to reprogram a belief in self. They are the encouragement statements that cultivate new thoughts to take root and grow. As you continue to repeat the statements, the new thoughts become stronger and permeate your unconscious mind until a new belief system is fully established, flourishing, and bearing positive results in your daily performance.

Some statements take root rapidly and bear fruit quickly. Other issues or thought patterns require more time before they ripen and bear new fruit or new performance thought patterns. I worked with an athlete for an entire season to overcome his belief that he was an unsuccessful pitcher - that could not throw strikes no matter how hard he tried.


“ I was a real mess during the fall baseball season. It was so hard for me to see the positive and success from my performances. As soon as I walked a batter, the negative talk would start. From that point forward my mind was telling me I was ‘choker’ and could not get hitters out.”

~ Ryan - Pitcher /Nor Cal - JCC


Remember, that your actions or beliefs have often existed for quite some time, so allow four to six weeks at a minimum for this process to produce results, and more time for optimal results.

Important for Best Results

Always phrase your self-statements positively and in the present tense. The unconscious mind, which makes pictures from your words, does not register negatives. When you tell your unconscious mind, “Don’t miss that fast ball,” the mind makes a picture of missing the fastball, and then has to find a way to cancel that picture and generate a new behavior. This three-step process is very complex and does not help to generate positive behavior. This also explains why you continue to do the things that you tell yourself not to do.

Tell your unconscious mind exactly what you want it to do and it will follow the instructions you give it, especially when you repeat the instructions calmly and cheerfully for a period of time – four to six weeks. Here are some examples of positive self-statements:

My performance today will be the best I can give regardless of the weather or conditions of the field.

I choose to see myself performing effortlessly as I glide through my wind-up and delivery with confidence and focus.

I love to compete; I love the energy of being in a field of runners, bikers and swimmers and choose to focus on remaining present and in the flow.

By having my pre-at-bat plan and sticking to my plan, there is success without judgment regardless of the outcome.

I choose to take the success from practice into the game with confidence, and trust in my ability to be a winner.

Being in the flow and in the process of my own race means no judgment and no analysis.

My training has prepared me for this day. I am confident that my training success has prepared me for this day.

Let positive self-statements become a positive force in your athletic life, and life in general. Let this positive force enable you to become all that you can be.

You can Improve Your Performance with Positive Self-Statements. Make a commitment to get started now.

About The Author
John Ellsworth brings a multifaceted approach to the mental aspects of sports and health. Combined with his expertise in clinical and applied sports psychology, John has extensive experience coaching, teaching, and consulting with serious athletes of all ages. For more information visit:

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