Talk Yourself into Runs and Wickets

This is a guest article from coach and PhD candidate Adam Kelly

We all talk to ourselves.

Being aware allows you to control your self-talk; once we control our self-talk it has a positive effect on performance.

I have researched self-talk as a cricket skill during my dissertation, where I analysed the self-talk of international and county fast bowlers.

The results show the power of talking to yourself in cricket.

Self-talk enhances:

  • skill development
  • physical performance
  • skill execution
  • self-confidence
  • arousal control
  • drive and focus

That is a healthy list any struggling cricketer would like to regain.

Understanding your current self-talk

There are two techniques to highlight what you currently say to yourself.

The first is using a notebook write down all the things you say to yourself throughout a training session. Just put the book near you in training, and when you start saying things to yourself, write them down. Review this information and highlight any negative comments.

The second is called the 'paperclip technique': Place a handful of paperclips in one pocket. Whenever you use a negative self-talk statement, phrase or cue word, take one paperclip out and put it into the other pocket. At the end of the session count the amount of paperclips you have transferred.

This highlights how often you use negative statements.

Change negative to positive

Once you know where you are you can start to make improvements, switching your thinking from negative to positive.

Take your notebook and write down all the negative statements on one side of a page. On the other side of the page write a positive version. Take this page with you to training and repeat the positive statement after you use a negative statement.

For example, if you are negative you might say, "I can't get my Yorker right".

But with a swift change it becomes:

"Get the Yorker full"

Also remember thr following with your statements:

  • Use positive statements tell yourself what to do!
  • Make sure it's about the task at hand
  • Use cue words or phrases, keep it short and easy to remember
  • Try to talk in the 2nd person, research shows that the voice of a trainer can enhance performance

This small change gives you access to all the benefits of positive self-talk.

Self-talk and skill development

When were are learning new skills or refining our current skills, the use of self-talk enhances development.

Use the coaching point you are working on as a cue word or phrase prior to the skill. For example "stay tall" when working on bowling technique.

Self-talk and skill execution

During a game you can use self-talk to instruct yourself. Make sure your telling yourself what to do.

Use a positive and instructive cue word or phrase prior to executing the skill. For example "get the Yorker full" when bowling at the death.

It's a simple and proven technique that taps into the link between what you think and what you do.

Use self-talk today

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Comments

This is a big part of my game as I know I do it but not sure how to deal with it. I've noticed it more since I started running in the winter, particularly in marathon training. Be good to see some links to the PhD or other related articles so we could share these even wider.

Hi Steve

Sorry for the late reply. My PhD is in a slightly different area of psychology, but does have an overlap with self talk.

I have a link to my BASES presentation which was on Self Talk within elite level fast bowlers. There is research on thought stopping and changing negative to positive self talk. Try using the paper clip technique whilst running then once you finished you can see who often a negative comment appeared.

If you have an questions or would like to discuss this further feel free to email me. kelly_adam@hotmail.co.uk

Adam

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