Tips for Developing Positive Self-Talk
Do you become overwhelmed and anxious in new high-pressure competitive situations?
What do you tell yourself when you are about to play against a top team or break into the starting lineup for the first time?
All soccer players can agree that a player needs a high confidence level for athletic success.
However, many players have no idea how to fuel their confidence. So these players find themselves on the pitch nervous and tentative. They feel over-matched. They cannot get into the flow of the game because they are overthinking and over-analyzing what is unfolding on the field and going on within their bodies and minds.
Let’s examine the role and roots of confidence of a young and talented professional soccer player.
Portland Thorns Sixteen-year-old Olivia Moultrie made history in 2022 by becoming the youngest player to score a goal in the National Women’s Soccer League. Moultrie not only scored a goal but recorded an assist in the Thorn’s 4-0 victory over the Houston Dash.
Moultrie is also the youngest American women’s soccer player to turn professional at 13 years of age. At 15, Moultrie became the youngest player to play in an NWSL regular-season game.
How can such a young player have the confidence to compete against the best soccer players in the world?
Moultrie alluded to the one factor that helped keep her confidence high:
MOULTRIE: “[My team] was super encouraging. They were like, ‘you’ve got this, you’ve done this a million times. You are ready for this.’ Them all having my back made it much easier to step in.”
It may sound like her teammates gave her confidence. However, confidence is from within. That is why it is referred to as self-confidence. Others can have confidence in your abilities, but if you don’t believe in your abilities, you will not succeed.
It’s not so much that other players gave her a confidence boost as the words she fed herself.
You see, self-talk can” talk” yourself into succeeding or “talk” you out of succeeding.
Moultrie succeeded because she was convinced, through her self-talk, that she had the ability to compete against the very best in the world.
When you send yourself messages of anxiety, you will become more anxious on the pitch, “I am so nervous. What if I mess up? I wish I were on the sidelines watching the game.”
When you send yourself messages about failing, you will have lower confidence, “I don’t belong competing against these players. I am going to look like a fool. I’m the worst player on the field.”
When you send yourself positive messages, you will have high confidence, “I’m an aggressive player. I belong on the field. I have worked my tail off and have the ability to compete at a high level. I’ve done it before, and I can do it now.”
The key to high confidence is in the tone and content of your self-talk.
Competing at a high level requires a high level of self-confidence.
Tip for Developing Confident Self-Talk:
Become aware of the content of your self-talk. Review past games when you played your best. What messages did you send yourself?
Alternately, what messages did you send yourself when you underperformed or fell apart during games.
You have the power to change your self-talk, but it all starts with awareness.