Positive Self Talk

The voice in our head has a major impact on our performance. This internal dialogue is called ‘self-talk’. Self-talk is one of the techniques we will cover in our upcoming workshop, The Psychological Game: Mental Skills Training (get tickets here).

If our self talk is positive, it has been shown to enhance self esteem, motivation, attentional focus and performance. It creates positive emotions. Negative self-talk on the other hand is critical and demeaning. It creates negative emotions which are damaging to self esteem, motivation, focus and performance.

Self talk is a powerful tool for performance improvement, and occurs in a three step process:​

  1. An event occurs.
  2. As a result of the event we undertake self-talk/internal dialogue.
  3. Our self-talk leads to a certain emotional/physiological/behavioural response.

As CrossFitters, exercisers and athletes, the uses of self talk are extensive:

  1. Skill acquisition: To focus attention on an important element of the task. eg: ‘finish the pull’.
  2. Breaking bad habits: A reminder to avoid the unwanted action/behaviour. eg: ‘hips down’.
  3. Initiating action: As a motivational tool. eg. ‘explode’.
  4. Sustaining effort. eg. ‘keep moving’.

Practically speaking, there are two major techniques you can try to improve self-talk:

  1. Thought stopping: Concentrating on an undesired thought and using a trigger or cue to clear your mind, eg. ‘stop’. Then shifting your focus to a task related cue.
  2. Changing negative self-talk to positive self-talk: Becoming aware of negative self talk and replacing it with positive self talk.
Dan Williams

Dan Williams


Dan Williams is the Director of Range of Motion and leads a team of Exercise Physiologists, Sports Scientists, Physiotherapists and Coaches. He has a Bachelor of Science (Exercise and Health Science) and a Postgraduate Bachelor of Exercise Rehabilitation Science from The University of Western Australia, with minors in Biomechanics and Sport Psychology.