Tag Archive for 'self-talk'

Concentration and self-talk in football

Concentration and self-talk in football

Mirko Farina and Alberto Cei


Concentration and self-talk are key (often under appreciated) factors underlying elite sport performance. In this chapter we define concentration and self-talk and look at some of their applications (section 1). We investigate their relation, their functions, and discuss their contribution to sport performance (sections 2). We focus on the specific role that concentration and self-talk play in football (sections 3; 4). So, we analyse how they improve players’ performance by, for instance: (i) providing a balanced level of anxiety, (ii). enhancing focus and attention, (iii).promoting decision making skill and decreasing reaction time, (iv). motivating to increase efforts, (v). improving coordination with teammates and, more generally, deterring behaviours that have negative consequences on the field. We then analyse (section 5) the peak moment of any football performance (the act of scoring a goal) and look at how to use concentration and self-talk to increase the chances of scoring a goal (or not conceding it). We conclude (section 6), by providing practitioners with a series of applied coaching strategies that can be used to build more successful coaching programs (both in team sports and in football).To do so, we first identify some crucial game factors influencing football performance (e.g. game momentum, stress, anxiety, the players’ capacity to re-focus on the present) and then look at how coaches can intervene to satisfy some of these games demands.

In: E. Konter, J. Beckmann, T.M. Loughead (eds.), Football Psychology. Oxford: Routledge.

Negative self-talk destroys the performance

During a tennis match it’s very easy to watch and listen one of the two opponents to talk against him/herself, with behaviors (sadly shake the head or move the racquet like a stick)  showing the presence of a negative emotional state, exasperated and that hurts the play in the next game. These scenes occur more rarely among professional players because they have been trained to deal effectively with stressful  competitive moments.  These errors are common among young people and are very frequent among the players maybe even technically gifted but who have not understood that playing a match is not just a matter of physical strength and good technique.

To play good tennis, whatever their level, needs to want and be able to think and this goal becomes very difficult if  are dominating moods of anger or devaluation of themselves. Everyone wants to win  and since the first moment of the match the emotional tension begins to grow and if  the player does not act to control it, since the first 15 – 0 for the opponent he/she will also start to worry. The court stresses the beliefs of the player: you cannot lay the blame on teammates, you cannot blame fate: the mistakes are yours mistakes. You must bear responsibility for how you are playing and thinking for doing something different right now .
The question is: to do something of different. Easy to say when you watch someone else play; it’s more difficult when you have to apply this simple rule to you. This positive attitude is built by first becoming the main supporter of yourself and not the main detractor. The tennis player after a fault must always do two things: encourage him/herself + give a simple technical instruction  that will permit to avoid repeating the previous error. The match is like a battle, in which to overwhelm the enemy you need to have confidence in the information received from their commander, which in this case is you. Therefore to encourage ourselves is required to maintain a high level of confidence and control of emotions.

If in the field the player does not show this attitude, the mind of tennis player will be like a sailboat without the skipper, prey of the opponent. I suggest to the players to establish a priori checklist of things to do when they are in trouble :
1 . What to do when the first service does not enter.
2 . What to do when I want to conclude too quickly the game .
3 . What to do to decrease  the anger or disappointment at that time.
4 . What I want to say to encourage me .
5 . Which are the technical information for me more important in the difficult moments.