With many of you playing in National Tournaments this week or next, the pressure on your players to perform really builds. How they talk to themselves can make all the difference, so help your players perform better by helping them eliminate their Not-Thoughts.
You might be surprised to learn that your player’s heads are usually filled with things they shouldn’t do, are doing wrong, or trying “Not To-Do”. Discover how changed thoughts will result in changed performances.
Our brains are very powerful things. The types of thoughts that fill our brains act as instructions to our bodies. Good thoughts turn into good instructions and bad thoughts…you got it, turn into bad instructions and ultimately poor performances.
Girls are particularly hard on themselves and as a result we criticize ourselves a lot. We work really hard to please the people we care about, like our coaches and teammates, so we try hard “not” to do the things that hurt them. What this means is that your players heads are filled with things I call “Not-Thoughts”, or, those things they’re trying not-to-do.
A look at the list to the left shows some common examples of the kind of Not-Thoughts that run through our player’s heads. These are all things your players are trying Not-To-Do. Maybe because we’ve told them things “not to do”, or because they know it’s wrong to do them, or because they don’t know a better way to think. Whatever the reason the result is the same – bad thinking = bad playing.
Brain instructions are a lot like driving directions – we want to know what to-do versus what-not-to-do. Let’s say we’re driving to the field for practice, we tell ourselves to “turn left here” instead of thinking “don’t turn right here”. As far as instructions go our brain can’t really process the word “don’t”. Sure, we understand what it means, but it isn’t a word that makes your body take action. “Don’t” is a word that tells us to stop, take no action – which won’t work when it comes to movement and sports skills since the word “don’t” falls out of our brain and we’re left with the instructions minus the word “don’t”.
While this might not seem like a big deal let’s look at the first 2 examples of our Not-Thoughts and see how they sound in our brains without the word “don’t”:
- “Don’t Blow It” – becomes Blow It
- “Don’t Strike Out” – becomes Strike Out
You get the idea. If our players said these statements without the word “don’t” in them they become extremely harmful instructions so you can just imagine how hard it is for your players that have these statements rolling around in their heads. Instead, what our players should learn to say to themselves is what they ARE trying to do, instead of NOT trying to do. They need to learn to think Action Thoughts. Action Thoughts are statements a player makes to herself that are very specific and that tell her what “To-Do” instead of “What-Not-To-Do”. Look again at the list and notice the difference between the Not-Thoughts and the Action Thoughts.
Once you and your players learn to talk in Action Thoughts versus Not-Thoughts it becomes a habit. But, just like every other softball skill, thinking is a skill and must be practiced! Lead the way coaches! Help your players learn to think and talk in Action Thoughts by teaching and talking in Action Thoughts. Be honest with your players that it’s a tough change for you but one you’re willing to make since your players are worth it! None of us are perfect and we’re always in a state of improvement so don’t be afraid to lead the way and set the example for your players.
For more help with this topic check out the following:
- Team Culture – The Key to Your Team’s Success (Brand New eClinic!)
- Coach’s Guide to Creating Team Chemistry: Tips on Coaching Female Athletes (Book)