The last sessions for the City of Edinburgh Girls Football Academy focused on self talk. Looking at the things that they say to them self and think during games particularly after mistakes and how this can have a detrimental effect. I always ask, "would you say that to someone else?" And usually they reply, "No way!" And I ask, "well why would you say it yourself?"
Obviously a little self criticism can be okay if it's used as a motivator. Nevertheless, excessive negative self talk leads to more stress and reduced confidence. If you were to speak to someone else the way you speak to yourself, would it be helpful or harmful? If it is helpful, keep going. If it would be harmful, then it's time to re think and change your thinking to positive and motivating.
If you read the Chimp Paradox by Dr Steve Peters, you will get another way of understanding of our inner talk. Dr Peters describes the brain to be in three parts: human, chimp and computer. The chimp is the area driven by feelings, impressions, emotional thinking and gut instincts. The chimp has lots of irrational ways of thinking such as black and white thinking and catastrophizing. The human part is what we can use to control the chimp (our negative self talk) as this is the rational and evidence based part of the mind. It is driven by greater purpose in life rather than the chimp part which is all about survival. The computer is your reference and information part of the brain. This is where we can store the skills and techniques of performance psychology and use them to tame that chimp of ours.
The girls were taught different ways of thinking like a winner and also came up with lots of ideas on their own. Please check out latest testimonials for the girls feedback on the block. The girls were a pleasure to work with and were keen to learn.
Tracy Donachie, MSc in Performance Psychology.