The Benefits of Positive Thinking and Right Attitude in Sports
Many people fear they can’t take up a new sport, whether they feel they are too old, not good enough, or not capable, barriers and negative thoughts can affect this and prevent people from trying new things.
We want to show that how a positive mindset can help you and make trying a new sport easier, showing that thinking positively to can impact not just those elite athletes but everyone and how having a positive mindset can make all the difference.
“Having a positive attitude in any sport, can improve your performance. It is commonly estimated that over two thirds of the thoughts we have each day are negative in nature. Some estimates even go as high as 85% of our thoughts. But by fostering psychological skills such as confidence and resilience, you can improve your overall attitude and thus improve your proficiency. The benefits are twofold, as you will find yourself enjoying the sport more while performing at a higher level.” Greg Daubeny Chartered Sport Psychologist
We all experience tough times, bad days and obstacles as human beings. But having the right attitude can make adversity just a little easier to overcome. These tough circumstances are sometimes out of our control but our attitude is something that can be controlled.
Having a positive attitude in any sport, can improve your performance. It is commonly estimated that over two thirds of the thoughts we have each day are negative in nature. Some estimates even go as high as 85% of our thoughts. But by fostering psychological skills such as confidence and resilience, you can improve your overall attitude and thus improve your proficiency. The benefits are twofold, as you will find yourself enjoying the sport more while performing at a higher level.
One of the basic principles of sports psychology is that positive thinking can improve your performance – and ongoing research consistently supports this idea.
On the 3rd August 2018 we tested 12 peoples reaction to listening to positive and negative thoughts whilst paddling, with the aim of showing how both thoughts can affect performance and your ability to achieve.
The purpose of the test was to assess whether negative and positive stimuli influenced paddlers performance similar to positive and negative thought.
2 minutes prior to the sprint, a phrase (accessory stimulus) was presented aurally. The accessory stimulus provided either positive (e.g., ‘strength, strong, fast’) or negative information (e.g., ‘weak, slow, poor’).
After completing each sprint we asked the paddlers how they felt, thought and behaved. GROUP ONE (4 paddlers) – 3 x TIME TRIALS
GROUP TWO (4 paddlers) 3 x TIME TRIALS – BASELINE / POSITIVE STIMULI / NEGATIVE STIMULI
GROUP THREE (4 paddlers) 3 x TIME TRIALS – BASELINE / NEGATIVE STIMULI / POSITIVE STIMULI
- For participants with a baseline time over 50 seconds, the positive talk conditions was the most enjoyable trial.
- For participants with a baseline time under 50 seconds, the enjoyment of all trials didn’t change. They already had mental skills to block out the interference from both positive and negative talk conditions. Interestingly, three participants performed extremely well under a
negative talk condition. Their interview data suggested that the negative talk acted as “something to fight against” and “to prove wrong”. This suggests that their inherent positive mental attitude to perform well can overcome negative thoughts that might interfere with other paddle boarders.
- Performance times improved in 13 of 16 trials were some form of talk was provided. It is not clear how often that improvement was significant.
- Performance times improved in 7 of 8 trials were positive talk was provided. The average increase in percentage performance time was 2.21%. The average decrease in performance time was 0.90%.
- Performance times improved in 6 of 8 trials were negative talk was provided. The average increase in percentage performance was 1.93% The average decrease in performance time was 3.57%.
- Physical fatigue impacted advanced skilled participants more than less skilled participants. Advanced skilled participants times reduced but the beginner participants times improved. dramatically with practice.
- All participants enjoyed taking part in the experiment. The interviews with all participants showed the sheer level of enjoyment they experienced from being outside, on the water in a friendly environment like Hove Lagoon Watersports.
- For promotional usage, beginners and new paddle boarders really enjoyed a positive environment and positive talk (potentially as a ‘reinforcer’ for what they are doing).
- For most high intermediate skilled paddle boarders, it is likely they already hold a more positive mental attitude and so the effectiveness of positive and negative talk will depend on the individual.
- For most advanced paddle boarders, they already hold their own psychological preparation and performance skill sets. Therefore any psychological intervention should be tailored to the individual.
Greg Daubney, Winning Essence – Chartered Sport Psychologist