Blowing your golf or tennis game?

Adapted from Chapter 8 Sporty Bitch: What Makes Athletes Lose

Sports psychologists have completely reversed training techniques.

In the old days, coaches used to tape players so they could show them what they did wrong. Makes sense, doesn’t it? But the opposite happens: showing mistakes encourages The Bitch in athletes’ heads to predict failure. And that creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. So here’s how to do the opposite:

1. Positive Thinking

As a golfer told me, “If I approach the tee and think, ‘I’m probably going to shank the ball,’ I usually do.” That’s why sports psychologists encourage golfers to either think, “I’m going to hit a great shot,” or block out all thoughts with a mantra like “Back, hit” as you swing the club back and follow through.

2. Positive Visualization

Combine positive thinking with positive images. If you imagine yourself blowing the serve, you probably will. But if you imagine yourself serving beautifully – and can actually see yourself doing this in your mind – you will probably serve your best. Concentrate on how good it feels to play well and your actions will follow your image.

3. Positive Approach to Loss

Bad losers not only lose the respect of other players, they impede their own success. You may think you’re just letting off steam, but you are probably increasing your stress and deepening your feeling of being “a loser.” Pick yourself up (physically and mentally) congratulate the winner and imagine yourself winning the next time.

In sports – as in everything else — the mind is the most important muscle. The Bitch wants you to use that muscle in negative ways, acting like one of those horrible coaches who screams and insults the players. Instead, act like a good sports psychologist and only use positive thinking. If you lose, focus on future wins.
Get in touch and tell me how it works for you and what statements and images are most effective.

If you’d like more detail on how to be your own sports psychologist, check out my book The Bitch In Your Head: How to Finally Squash Your Inner Critic.