Talk to Yourself

If you talk to yourself, you are not alone.  Experts say that most people engage in self-talk.

Self-talk can be the key to performing well.

Mentally tough athletes deliberately engage in self-talk to motivate themselves and guide themselves through their performance.


To motivate, self-talk may sound like:

“You have trained for this,  you’ve got this.”

“You have the skills.  Let’s show them.”

To direct action, guide through the performance process, self-talk may sound like:

“Loose arms, kick back.”

An athlete may use self-talk to relax or focus on using techniques properly.  Self-talk can help take the athlete’s focus off of the outcome and thus reduce stress.  Take, for example, a runner who is getting tired and starting to feel anxious about her time.  Her body tightens up and she has more trouble breathing.  Here is where self-talk comes in.  “Loose arms, kick back,” she repeats to herself.  She shakes her arms out and focuses on kicking back her feet.  She is redirecting her attention and calming herself with self-talk.

run feet

The Best Way to Talk to Yourself

“You” – Recent research showed that people who spoke to themselves in the way another person would – using “you” or their name – performed better while under stress as compared to those who spoke to themselves in the first person – using “I.”  Researchers found that we are more objective and helpful towards ourselves when we think of ourselves as another person.  So, use your name or “you” when talking to yourself.

Positively – Don’t beat yourself up with negative self-talk.  Focus on what you can do to make it better.  For example, rather than saying, “I blew that tennis match,” say, “That wasn’t my best effort and I can do better if I try harder.”

woman fist up

Competence at self-talk is a component of mental toughness.  At Summit Performance Consulting LLC, we work with athletes of all levels on mental toughness skills.  If you are ready to take your performance to the next level, contact us at or 561-325-8363.


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