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Monday, 04 March 2019 08:38

Sports Psychology: Confidence Part 5- An Athlete's Litany

Written by  Iain Shippey

In my last article, I was writing about practical ways in which we can rebuild our confidence. The last point was

Start talking your way into a better space:

The goal is to repeatedly engage in positive-thinking practice and self-talk -so that a new mental habit of positive thinking becomes hardwired in your mind and replaces the negative thinking.

An Athlete's Litany

The Athlete's Litany is a group of statements used to teach positive thinking and increase confidence. The litany reshapes the bad habit of negativity into the good skill of positive thinking. As with any kind of habit, the only way to correct negative thinking is to practice being positive over and over and over again. The litany is like a practice drill in which you're focusing on learning good technical skills. The litany provides the necessary repetition to instill positive thinking skills. Here's an example of a litany you can use:

I come alive when I train and compete.

I think and talk positively.

I am rebuilding my confidence and my game.

I engage challenges and exercise my confidence and courage every day.

The important thing about the Athlete's Litany is not only to say it, but to say it like you mean it. For example, I could say "I love to train and compete," but I may not sound very convincing. If I say it like I mean it, with energy and enthusiasm, then I'm more likely to start believing what I'm saying. Saying the litany with conviction also generates positive emotions and physical feelings that will reinforce its positive message.

A great thing about the Athlete's Litany is that you can personalize it to your needs. Create your own litany of positive self-statements that mean something to you. Then, say the litany out loud every day. You can also say the litany before you train and compete.

Keywords that activate you!

Another useful way to develop your confidence is to use keywords which activate something in you and remind you to be positive and confident. Make a list of words or phrases that make you feel positive and good, for example: ‘focus’, ‘positive’, ‘alert’, or ‘I am an attacking player’. Write them on your equipment where they're visible during practice and competitions. Also, put keywords in noticeable places where you live - such as in your bedroom or on your bathroom mirror. When you look at a keyword, say it to yourself. Just like the Athlete's Litany, every time you see it, it will sink in further until you truly believe it.

“All athletes will go through periods where they don't perform well. The skill is not getting caught in the vicious cycle and being able to get out of the down periods quickly.”– Jim Taylor

Greater confidence beyond sport

 Eleanor Roosevelt, former First Lady of the USA said:


“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience by which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.”

I often say that ‘sport is the theater of life.’ What I mean is that a lot of life’s issues play out on the sport’s field. Sport becomes the stage on which I give expression to so many things: character, relationships, determination, discipline, and, the topic of this eBook – confidence.

As you learn a principle from sports psychology, try to identify the principle in other aspects of your everyday life. For example, in the previous eBook, I wrote about focus. The same principles taught there could be applied when writing an exam or having to shut out the noise in a stressful situation and stay focused on the most important issue.

When it comes to practicing and mastering confidence, here are a few ways you can grow your confidence beyond the sports field:

  • Develop the attitude that demanding situations are challenges to be sought out. Intentionally stretch yourself and regularly push yourself out of your comfort zone.
  • Believe that experiencing challenges is a necessary part of becoming the best athlete you can.
  • Discover how to find ‘mental footholds’ to climb the cliff face of life’s challenges.
  • Focus on what you need to do to overcome the challenges.
  • Accept that failure isn’t fatal; and confidence and courage are muscles that need a regular workout.

Thinc Sport 2 copy

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