Self-Talk: Winning The Internal Battle

The internal mental battle can be more vicious than the physical battle out on the field or court, and it often weighs more on the end result as well. Luckily, there’s a way to win this internal battle, and dominate your own mind so that you can in turn dominate on the field/court as well

This past weekend I had the absolute pleasure of attending the Australian National Youth Athletics Championships down in Homebush, Sydney. And it was an absolute spectacle to behold. So many talented young athletes were gracing the stage and doing what they do best, all with a smile on their faces

But there was one thing that surprised me, and it took me back to my time at this level when I was younger… and that’s how lonely it is despite all the noise and the competitors and spectators

It’s how much alone time there was inside their own heads, and it was interesting to see who was winning this internal battle and who wasn’t - depicted from their body language and how they held themselves

You could pick those who were in flow. You could see they were solely focused on themselves and the task they had at hand. They had smiles on their faces. They were practicing the smallest of movements to feel their technique and get that final ‘practice’ in. The self-talk they had inside was limited and positive. They were focused and had a sole intent

You could see those who were overcome by the occasion. Their eyes and attention were taken by the crowd and the spectacle of it all. Their thoughts were not on themselves, and their body language showed nought but overwhelm for this big occasion. And the self-talk in these young athletes was incredibly different… you could smell the doubt, you could see it written on their faces

And it showed even more in their performances

There will always be nerves, but it’s how you handle these nerves that matter most. It’s what you say and think to yourself that defines your competition. As if the work has been done in training, there is nothing to do but “do” on this day

The implements are the same. The field is the same. The event is the same. Nothing changes but the title and this can crack some

It all comes down to the simple, and oh-so-powerful ideology:

whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you are right"

These thoughts you feed yourself will become your reality. It’s not the equipment or anything else that matters most or will win the day, it’s this self-talk and what you believe…

The pros didn’t make it to the pinnacle of their sport due to the equipment they use, as there are many weekend warriors using nothing but the best, yet they’ll never go pro. The pros are at the top due to their self-talk and their self-belief…

They have the passion and belief in themselves to continually drive through the face of adversity. They have the utmost of belief in themselves, and their preparation. And this is possible for all young athletes too, as is shown from the world-class story of Clifford Young…

There is a super-marathon from Sydney to Melbourne, and back in 1983, an unsuspecting competitor strolled up to enrol to run the race. That man was 61yr old Clifford Young, a farmer wearing nought but overalls and work boots. Here were all of these professionals who had trained for this event, wearing the best gear. Everyone except for Cliff himself thought he was crazy; especially when he told them “I believe I can run this race”… 

The race started, and everyone took off, except for Cliff. He wasn’t running, instead, he was doing one of those “loping walks”, and so everyone overtook him and he slowly fell further behind. But that didn’t stop him, he kept loping along

Now, this is one of those races where they’d run for 18hrs and sleep for six, continuing this trend until the race had been run. But in spite of what everyone thought, Cliff wins… by a day and a half!

And when he’s asked how he can fall so far behind, and then run all day, sleep at night, catch up, and overtake them, his answer is one of great power…

I didn’t know we were supposed to sleep”

Cliff extinguished all negative self-talk inside himself

Cliff extinguished all negative self-talk inside himself

His self-talk was one that was completely different to that of the other competitors. Cliff was no different to them, except for in this area. He believed in himself, and continually told himself he could do it, despite all of the other competitors around him

He didn’t know he was supposed to sleep… He didn’t know he needed all the latest and greatest equipment… All he knew and believed was in himself, and his self-talk reflected this, hence the end result

And this is how you win this internal battle. By being your best friend and believing in yourself and your abilities wholeheartedly… And next week, we’re going to touch on these self-beliefs, where they stem from, and how to ensure you’re creating them every opportunity you get

MindsetNick Maier