The way that you talk to yourself during a match can have a massive impact on how you perform. Lots of players talk to themselves very negatively during matches and practice, this puts extra pressure on yourself and reinforces negative emotions and outcomes which will impact on your overall performance.
“How did you miss that!”
“That was rubbish.”
“You are so bad.”
Sound familiar? These are just a few examples of negative self-talk I have heard from players (lots of instances have too many expletives to repeat here), most of the time players don’t even know they are doing it. Negative self-talk creates negative thoughts, which creates a negative performance, which will inevitably end up with more negative self-talk unless you can break the cycle.
One way to re-frame and build awareness of your self-talk is to imagine you are not talking to yourself, but a teammate. Would what you are about to say to yourself help or hinder a teammate if you were to say it to them? Chances are if you told a teammate they are rubbish it wouldn’t help their performance. So why say it to yourself? If you were trying to encourage a teammate, what would you say?
“CCHHOOOO!!” – Maybe not quite as loud and as often as Harimoto but it is still a good one.
Try replacing your negative self-talk with these kinds of positive phrases and you will find that you will start to think more positively resulting in a more positive mental state and better performance. Focus on what you can control and praise yourself for each small success and try not to linger on mistakes or poor shots.
Make sure that your training is not purely technically focused and to introduce using and start thinking about your mental side of your game. On the Academy we have many psychological training tips to enhance your mental game, so be sure to check those out here.
Photo via ITTF Flickr