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3.5 What do I Tell Myself??

What if you could:

  • Believe in your own capability to execute what’s needed to achieve your goal?
  • Have better ability to learn skills?
  • Change and control your mood when you need it?
  • Control your effort when you need it?
  • Focus exactly when you need it?
  • Concentrate at the right moment?

By building your self-talk skills, you could increase your abilities in these areas.

Self talk is defined as ‘the overt or covert personal dialogue in which the athlete interprets feelings, perceptions & convictions and gives themself instructions and reinforcements.’ 

Self-talk has the power to make a difference to each of these areas. It’s thought to contribute to:

  • Building & Developing Self-Efficacy
  • Building Skills
  • Creating & Changing Mood
  • Controlling Effort
  • Focussing Attention or Concentration

(Adapted by Richard H Cox from Williams, Zinsser, et al (2010))

Exercise: Exploration // Duration: Climbing plus 30 minutes

The purpose of the exercise is to identify: What actually is self-talk in climbing?

Go to the climbing wall or crag for a climb and answer these questions:

  1. What do you say to yourself when you are climbing?
  2. What are the different types of self-talk?
  3. If you are in a situation that is competitive or there is pressure to achieve, do you use self-talk?
  4. Write down some examples of your current self-talk?

Next, speak to one or more other climbers, male or female, to find out their answers to the same questions.

Guidance for approaching others for this task: 

Permission: Ask for permission to discuss their climbing with them – it can take 15 minutes to 30 minutes or longer – you can decide on how much time to spend.  Explain that the results are anonymous, but we may discuss them generally on a forum.  Please ensure that you don’t mention real names when discussing others’ contributions.

Explanation: Explain about self talk, you can use this definition:

Self talk is defined as ‘the overt or covert personal dialogue in which the athlete interprets feelings, perceptions & convictions and gives herself or himself instructions and reinforcements.’ 

Questioning: Ask open questions, which allow the person to expand their thoughts.  Some examples here:

  1. Tell me what you know about or understand by the term self-talk.
  2. What experience do you have of self-talk?
  3. If you are in a situation that is competitive or there is pressure to achieve, do you use self-talk?
  4. Please would you describe some examples of your self-talk – this might be positive or negative
  5. Can you think of any examples of positive self-talk that you’ve given yourself?
  6. Can you think of any examples of negative self-talk that you’ve given yourself?

This is available as a download for you to take to the climbing centre with you:

Exercise: Conclusion

Make notes in the comments box to summarise your conclusion and learning from this exercise. Then click next, where you’ll find out more about self-talk and how to use it most effectively.