So what psycho-babble can we use to help us with that?
Recently Stuart Lancaster spoke about monitoring the psychological or cognitive aspects of the practices we design. Where we speak of every game or drill in training having a psychological aspect. This is a crucial consideration. I go as far as weighing the various games I commonly use. Are they tactically, technically and psychologically challenging. I pretty much know the physical consequences, the research is there, my experience is also there. But for instance heavily psychologically challenging games at the end of a training 2 days after a hammering or 2 days before a big game may not be the wisest way to go.
Mental Skills we can work on, that will support improved performance and skill execution. Self Talk as a subject is facinating, way too deep to get into the extensive science here for a real deep dive but we will do some basics around it that may help the coach or athlete. The research in this area is improving all the time and while some people want definitive mathematical equations giving exact answers, or else they won't trust it, neuroscience and Neurobiology are 2 areas that are accelerating areas around human behavior of which subjects like self talk, imagery and resilience are being given more and more value, especially in the polarised, social media driven world we live in.
But our inner dialogue really is unbelievably powerful and dicates how we see the world. Outside of our control though is that this dialogue was heavily influenced by others for many years. So changing to good positive and effective self talk is not easy, so coaches and players, be patient here. It takes time. If someone has being talking to themselves negatively for 15 years we cannot expect to make a change in one conversation, and telling them to change and they have to change is certainly not going to work.
What is it?
Self talk is omnipresent in everyday life, not just sport. It is basically our internal chat with ourselves.
There are a few different variants of Self Talk , but we are not going to delve too far into that here, i would suggest reading The Handbook of Applied Sports Psychology Chapter 53 if interested in a real deep dive.
In lay mans terms
Self-Talk is what i say to myself and it is how i evaluate myself, my goals and my performances………….
Self-Image which forms my identity, my attitude and opinion of myself then…..
My Performance and how i act and perform based on my present self-image….
……..That stimulates behaviors and performance
So in the last post we talked quite alot about mental preparation, identifying what exactly you want to work on and why?
We spoke to enjoying the game more and the pursuit of improvement being the enjoyment and not hanging everything on medals and cups.
We talked about coaches and players working together on the process of improvement and coaches creating a safe environment mentally for this to happen. A place where mistakes are ok and enjoyed, but where effort and bouncebackability is revered. We gave some examples of where loose language or lack of encouragement froze a player into avoiding improvement (based on feedback this is a common memory for many).
So now we have set some scene and discussed some reasonably common examples, and hopefully you and/or you players have discussed something that can be worked on we will return to the original mission for a second, what we want and can work on for now;
That Mindset has actually been researched extensively and has a name “Growth Mindset”
Have a look at this video for a brilliant explanation from Trevor Ragan (of The Learner Lab Podcast)