www.softballperformance.com - Softball Tips, drills, techniques on hitting, pitching, coaching, training, and more.
Home Bio Products Coaching Free Stuff Success Stories Member Login Contact

Back To The Softball Articles

Changing Self-Talk From Negative to Positive

By Moe Gelbart, Ph.D.

Whether you’re on the pitching mound, in the batter’s box or out on the field, you may think you’re alone, but you’re not. Wherever you are on the softball field, you always have your inner voice with you and you must understand that what this inner voice says will have more to do with determining your performance than even your talent ability. The greater the perceived stress of the situation, the louder the voice becomes, and can send your body into shakes, sweats and dizziness.

Self-talk plays an important role in softball.Let me illustrate. It is the seventh inning and your team is down 1 - 0. The pitcher on the mound is on fire and she has already struck you out twice. With two outs and a runner on third, you approach the plate. What is your inner voice, inner dialogue, self-talk saying? If the voice inside is filled with “I can’t hit this girl,” “She’s too fast,” “My teammates will be let down when I strike out again,” or “I’m not very good,” then you’re going up there with a bat that may as well weigh 10 pounds. You’ve been done in by negative self-talk. Fortunately, negative self-talk can be controlled and eliminated.

The first step is understanding a little about the body’s response to a stressful situation. Every time you are engaged in an activity on the softball field, it is a form of a stressful situation. Keep in mind, however, that not all stress is bad. In fact, some stress sharpens our abilities and enables us to perform at peak levels. I conceptualize “stressful” events as having three components. The first is the stressor. For example, if you are a batter, then the pitcher is your stressor, and vice-versa; if you are in the field, then the batter and her potential hit to you is the stressor, etc. The second component of the stress response is your perception of the event - what you are saying to yourself inside your head. The final component is your body’s reaction to the stressor. Naturally, this is linked to your perception, so if you are the pitcher and your perception of the batter (stressor) is that you can never get her out, then your body will tense, ache, tighten, sweat, shake, etc.

Notice that in the description of the three components of a stressful event, only two are in your control. You have no control of the stressor. If the pitcher throws 65 mph, you cannot change that. You can, however, control your perception and your body’s reaction. As I have stated on numerous occasions, one of the cardinal sins of success is learning to control the things you can control and letting go of that which you have no control over.

The first step in changing negative self-talk involves recognition, awareness and understanding. Negative self-talk, or “irrational thinking,” can be grouped into several common classifications (as identified by D. Burns, M.D.).

1) All or None Thinking is when the player looks at things in absolute, black-and-white categories, usually identified by words like “always” and “never”, i.e. “ I always strike out in tough situations.”

Solution/Rational Thought: Train the athlete to avoid absolutes and to address the reality of the situation: “Although there are times I have struck out. I have been able to get some hits in similar situations.” Teach your girls to never use “never” and “always.”

2) Over-Generalization occurs when a player makes a negative event and magnifies its importance. After giving up a home run, the pitcher’s thoughts run to “I’m not a very good pitcher, I’m not a very good player, I never was any good, etc.”

Solution/Rational Thought: Isolate the event. “Yes, I gave up a home run, but all that means is I gave up a home run. I can’t judge myself on the basis of one event.”

3) Mind Reading occurs when one assumes they know that others are thinking negatively about them and then begin to act on those assumptions. “The other coach thinks I’m a terrible fielder and they’re all going to hit to me.”

Solution/Rational Thought: Remind yourself that what someone thinks of you is none of your business and that you cannot control someone else’s thoughts, but only your own behavior.

4) “Should” Statements are your inner voice’s way of criticizing yourself and expecting perfection. “I should always catch a ball thrown right at me.” Along with “should” comes “must,” “have to,” and “ought to.”

Solutions/Rational Thought: Help your athlete recognize that progress, and not perfection, is the goal.

5) Labeling occurs when the athlete takes a negative event and applies a category to herself about it. For example, after an error, the fielder tells herself “I’m a loser.”

Solution/Rational Thought: Train your players to focus on the event and not to generalize about it. It is okay for a player to say “ I made a mistake” without assassinating her entire character.

In summary, in changing your negative self-talk, follow these guidelines;

1) Focus on the present. Forget what has occurred and avoid looking into the future.

2) Take a deep breath and relax. Clear your mind.

3) Identify your irrational, perfectionist thoughts and replace them with rational, kind, positive thoughts.

Home | About Us | Products | Coaching | Free Stuff | Success Stories
Softball Tips | Softball Drills|Softball Articles | Famous Softball Players|Softball History
Softball Cheers|Privacy Policy |Affiliates|Sitemap|Contact
Copyright 2000 - 2009 M.O. Dagenais & Associates, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
2637 E Atlantic Blvd #22284 Pompano Beach, FL 33062
Telephone/Fax: 866-589-0439 / Contact Me