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How to Overcome Negative Self Talk in Competition How to Overcome Negative Self Talk in Competition
How to Stop Negative Self Talk I can remember it like it was yesterday…   I’m 11 and in the car with my mom and... How to Overcome Negative Self Talk in Competition

How to Stop Negative Self Talk

I can remember it like it was yesterday… 

 I’m 11 and in the car with my mom and my brother, who is a year younger. We are driving to our baseball game on a Saturday morning.

My brother and I were on the same team. I’ll never know if my mom had some influence over that (since she passed away a few years ago). But, I was very happy with playing on the same team as my brother. 

Even though we fought like cats and dogs at times, (I mean real fist fights) there was always this sort of comfortable feeling I’d have when I was around him like:…”my world is now right.” 

As we are driving on a major city street to the field, my mom tells us: “I don’t care if you boys win or lose or make errors or get hits today. I want you boys to out-hustle everyone on your team.”

My brother made a fatal mistake when he replied:

“But I can’t”  (in that whiny sing-song way kids say things).

“Bad move”, I thought to myself…

My mom yanks the steering wheel to the right screeching the car to a halt and we stop against the curb.  

She turns around from the driver’s seat, and with as stern a face as if we had just failed a class, tells us both to our face:

“I don’t ever want to hear that word — “Can’t”  again.”

“We don’t use that word in this family. You can do anything you set your mind to.” 

She threw a couple extra eye daggers at my brother along with her raised voice and more choice words to emphasize her point…

“Yes mom”  …both of us said as we literally shivered in our seats. (which, by the way, was the correct response we had learned in the past to stop those eye daggers!)

Stop Negative Talk

(That’s me on the right a year before we were on the same team)

After a few minutes of total silence (and the danger zone had passed) and the car got back on the road, my brother (the ultimate rebel) blurts out with:

“I can’t fly to the moon right now!” 

I put my hands to my face and my mom does a half-look towards us both and… that was the last time we ever used the words “I Can’t” again.

That was also the first lesson to my becoming a mental toughness trainer.


Negative self talk…

It’s important to get rid of it, especially necessary for kids who are forming their beliefs.

We all do it at times, even me. The key is to create habits that counter it when it comes up in the mind so that you don’t entertain it!

I’ve got a full module in the Mental Toughness Academy and in Basketball Mental Toughness to fully eliminate negative self talk once and for all at the core of kids’ inner beings.

…and yes, I tell that story in the video training for the kids.

In the programs, you also get guided visualizations that can be listened to on the way to the game or to help them fall asleep to at night. In addition to these messages, kids learn how to calm themselves through their own thoughts.

For now, I’ve got a tool for your young athlete that may just do the trick.

Have a look at this tip on correcting negative self talk in competition when it comes up.

Let’s do this, 


P.S. I’ve got a full 365-day satisfaction guarantee on all of my programs.


Craig Sigl is

Read more of my blog.

The Mental Toughness Training Team helps athletes overcome issues keeping them from performing at the top of their game

The Mental Toughness Team

The Mental Toughness Trainer for Youth Athletes, has worked with thousands of professional and amateur athletes on the mental side of their game. They have authored and creator 7 mental toughness programs sold in 28 countries and written to over 16,000 athletes in these blogs.

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