Sports Psychology
Affirmations for Athletes

    Affirmations are short statements of personal belief that are designed to help us feel good about ourselves and our abilities.  They may take many forms, but they must always be written in First Person, be positive, and are written in the present tense.  They positively state exactly what we are doing to make our life go the way we want it to.
    A recent survey showed that one of the top concerns for young athletes was, "I am concerned about what others think of me".  Ironically, our concern over such things much more often limits our performance rather than enhancing it.  One excellent way to combat the anxiety such thoughts raise, is to have plenty of self-affirming statements that remind us who we are and what we want to accomplish.

    Stories of professional athletes using this technique are widespread and the techniques vary significantly.  For our purposes, I will recommend that you write your affirmations down, keeping them short, easy to remember, and appropriate for all circumstances.  Still, one of my favorite stories is about Ted Williams and his affirmation program.  If you are not familiar with him, Ted is probably the greatest hitter in the history of professional baseball.  While reporters usually talked about his technique, great eyesight, and exceptional eye-hand coordination, teammates quietly reported his real secret (though you wouldn't have seen it in the newspapers!)  Before games, Ted would affirm himself, usually at the top of his lungs, with statements like, "I am Ted @#$%& Williams and I am the greatest @#$%& baseball player that ever played the @#$%& game."
    Now, we might find that humorous if we witnessed someone acting that way in the locker room, but if that person went out day after day and never swung a bad pitch, hit for both average and power, and became recognized as an incredible player, we might think about trying out that technique for ourselves.  In fact, I have it on good authority that Alexander the Great, Napoleon, and Michael Jordan went through approximately that same technique every day.  We live in a world where a great number of people are ready, willing, and able to put us down harshly for almost any stand we take, so it seems only fair that we should set ourselves up with positive reinforcement that might offset that.

    In your case, we'll keep things pretty simple.  I want you to look at some of the statements and usages below, then think about affirmations you can write up for yourself to help you with the Problems you decided to work on back on the Goals page.  I want you to think about positive things you can say to yourself, that will help you feel capable of handling the problems you are trying to correct.  Listed below are only examples, and I want you to think in terms of your own personal problems and your "voice" in trying to correct them, so your affirmations will be very personal.

    An athlete having difficulty with persistence might say, "It is easy for me to keep going when things get tough."
    An athlete struggling with feelings of rejection might say, "I quickly let go of any upset when I hear the word 'No'."
    Another might say, "I handle rejection easily and turn it into a learning experience."
    Suffering deeply from losses, an athlete might say, "I must lose sometimes, and I will learn from each one."
    Another might say, "It's OK to make mistakes sometimes, but I am improving."
    Any of us might want to say, "What I need, say, or think is important."  or, "I am worthy of respect."  or, "I am proud of myself and my accomplishments."
    If we are stressed, we might say, "I view stressful situations as a challenge, and use them for personal growth."
    A good one for many of us might be, "I maintain self-control in the midst of the most chaotic circumstances."  or, "I stay on an even keel emotionally at all times."
    Other general purpose affirmations can be, "I accept myself and others for who we are."  or, "I readily forgive myself and others."  or, "I give to myself and others the love and respect we all deserve."

    The real key is to see our problems clearly and prepare to deal with them positively and effectively.  Repetition is one of the keys to success with affirmations, so it is important to say them several times each day.  It is often said these days that "You can achieve what you believe."  If that is true, it is also true that repetition builds belief.  If you hear often enough that you are a worthless individual, you will likely believe it eventually, even if you pretend not to.  Let's offset the negative things we think, feel, say, or hear with positive statements that will give us the inner strength to overcome those obstacles.

 ~  On a 3X5 note card, write 5 general (side 1) and 5 sport-related (side 2) Affirmations (following the rules: Personal, Positive, Present Tense) that will help make your life better.  The general ones should be related to individual qualities about yourself that you would like to improve.  The sport-related ones should be designed to help you overcome what you perceive as the obstacles that most often prevent you from performing your best.  Read the "general" card first thing each morning, and last thing each day.  Read the "sports" card just before each practice and game, and again immediately afterward.  Of course, you may also read or repeat them any other time when you think you need a little positive boost.
(Your teacher will ask to see these at some time.)
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