CJ Johnson
CJ Johnson
Tony Roig
Tony Roig

Negative Self-Talk//TWO WORDS to Stop with Coach Dayne G.

I can’t believe I missed another dink. It’s such an easy shot! Why am I having such a hard time with this? If I keep missing those shots, nobody is going to want to play with me. I’ve been playing for years, I drill, and practice, and I am just not getting any better. How can I be so inept and so stupid? Does that ever sound like you talking to yourself?

 

Does negative self-talk plague you? I think if you’re an athlete, at some point, negativity gets into your head. The difference is better players get it out of their heads faster.

Dayne Gingrich is a mental performance coach, and recently he stopped by Better Pickleball and to talk about negative thinking and how to overcome it. And he’s got two words you need to hear.

Catch up with Coach Dayne on Instagram or Facebook

Dayne, our brains are hard-wired to protect us, which means it automatically gets negative, and often we don’t realize it. For most of us, that’s when the negative self-talk begins. What are some tools that people can use to stop negative thinking?

It’s really simple; it’s just difficult (to do). Instead of trying to stop talking negatively, delete all the “I don’t want to.” The more attention we put on the negative, the more we talk about and focus on what you don’t want to do, what you want to stop, ironically, the more we grow that negative habit. Focus on what it is, what do I want from the positive self-talk?

With mental training, I am a big believer in writing stuff down. How do you want to talk to yourself while you’re playing? List as many situations as you can think of. How would you like it to be? Don’t worry about if it’s going to get done or how long it’s going to take or what the kind of work you’re going to have to put in. Just write it all down. Before we find an answer, we got to know what that answer is about. You need to answer the question, how do you want to talk to yourself while you’re on the court before you step on the court? Let’s create that as a base.

Then when we go on to the court, it’s not about, not talking to myself the way I used to talk. That’s what people do. They just put all that negative energy into the thing they don’t want to do, and they continue to grow what they don’t want to do. Then they get upset because they keep doing what they don’t want to do, not realizing they did that. So when we walk on the court because we’ve written exact intentions on how we want to talk to ourselves while we’re on the court. We bring those intentions and thoughts and the exact self-talk onto the court.

Whenever we’re in that state of belittlement, and we go into negative self-talk. It’s not about going there because you will, I don’t care who you are, Ben (Johns) still goes there. It’s about recognizing when you go there and pulling yourself to this other place.

The “other place” is the thing that you wrote down. When you go to negative, you’ve already given yourself the key to get out of it. You already know what to do. Knowing what to do is the first step. Now, let’s repeat those.

I’m just naturally a negative person, pessimistic. I’ve had to work on this. On the court, I look at a situation, and I see the negative of it, and I used to belittle myself. So training ourselves to focus on how we want to talk and act and walk and what that feels like. That’s tough to do. But again, it’s about putting in the reps, and not leaning into what you want to fix, but lean more into what you want the solution to be.

So how do you know the solution? You’ve got to write that stuff down. You’ve got to make that part of your DNA. This is how I talk to myself (positive). Make it that natural. The only way to do that is to practice that as many times as you can.

During the match, when you fall into the negative, bring yourself back. “Oh, no, no, no, that’s right. This is what I want to say to myself. This is how I want to act.” You keep repeating that until just like everything, it becomes a habit.

One of the questions that I use and this is not original, and I’m sure I got this from one of my mental coaches along the way; if my best friend talked to me the way I talk to myself, would we still be friends? If the answer was no, I’ve got some work to do on my negative self-talk.

Isn’t that the key? Most people read those quotes, the books or watch these webinar seminars, workshops, they go, and they and they consume the info and then they go, I’m good. You know what? You’re not good. You’ve got to go put that work in. So when you miss a shot, and you want to scream at yourself, it’s OK to want to scream at yourself if you do in terms of the macro learning process, that’s OK. As long as you say, oh, no, no, no, wait, let’s go to this place instead.

You told me there are two words you like to use to bring yourself out of negative self-talk to the positive. What are they?

Now What

Those two words can change your entire physiological makeup. In times of stress or after a mistake, we have this instinctive response to X. Usually, it’s negative, and in pickleball, it’s crazy like that. The split-second “OH MY!” is accepted in pickleball, where it’s not in other sports. Asking yourself Now What is like hitting Google. When we go on Google, and we type in that search, we’re trying to find the answer. If you ask yourself Now What after a miss, your brain will give you or at least search for that answer. Then it’s up to you to put that into practice.

What happens when I notice I’m angry with myself?

You’re allowed to have a response as long as you’re pulling yourself into Now What instead of I think what people do, especially when they’re learning it, are they try to go cold turkey and they try not to say anything, not to have any kind of response.

And then what happens, you explode. Until your response eventually is neutral, allow yourself some leeway to have the “Oh, my gosh, I can’t.” As long as you’re attaching the Now What. What should I say? Or Now, What should I do with my partner? Start trying to find the solution so you can get on to the next point.

I think it’s important not to run from our negative emotion, necessarily but kind of embrace it. I’m not saying throw F-bombs and chuck paddles and all of that, but if I miss a dink, that’s an unforced error, and usually, I’m going to be pissed. That’s OK as long as I don’t allow that to step into my next point.

It’s a matter of training yourself on the Now What? Because, again, I can’t say this enough. Now What will not allow you to stay in the same negative emotion. It can’t if you say it with emotional intensity to yourself. “OK, Now What?” you’ll find the answer. Then it’s about taking the answer and putting it into practice for the next point and just repeating and repeating and repeating. Pretty soon, you won’t even have to say Now What, and it’ll be an automatic response.

Conclusion

Now What?

Are you one of those people that Dayne spoke of, “I’ve read the article, and I got this,” or will you take action?

If you’re ready to take action and end the negative self-talk, I’ve got some resources for you, including this mental performance playlist and your free practice plan.

 

.Better Pickleball CJ Johnson

CJ Johnson Better Pickleball Age Well with C.J.
Train Smart · Live Bold · Age Well

Email: CJ@BetterPickleball.com

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11 Comments

  1. Anna Walters on August 23, 2020 at 4:51 am

    CJ, You do such a great job of tackling tough topics with clarity and understanding! I appreciate your efforts! Thanks for helping us be better!

  2. Rex McCoy on August 23, 2020 at 5:35 am

    Thank you

  3. Brian R Bidwill on August 23, 2020 at 7:46 am

    This lesson was excellent.
    I am one of the guilty ones on the mental aspects of any game.
    The suggestions were smart.
    I appreciate this post.

    • Cathy Jo Johnson on August 23, 2020 at 10:18 am

      Dayne has such a clear concise way of looking at the mental game. I’m glad you found it helpful Brian.

  4. J. M. Pena on August 23, 2020 at 12:42 pm

    “The Inner Game of Tennis (sic)” by W. Timothy Gallwey.
    Just substitute Pickleball for Tennis and you have some very interesting reading for sport mental ailments.

    • Cathy Jo Johnson on August 23, 2020 at 2:43 pm

      Yes, that’s another good one! Someone recommended Hockey Tough a while back. Haven’t had a chance to read it but there’s so much we can get from other sports.

  5. jim dougherty on August 25, 2020 at 4:28 pm

    How about if we disconnect from the results of our games?
    (Except in tournaments, perhaps), winning/losing is far less important than (1) playing our best, (2) raising our level of play over the mid-term, and (3) having fun.
    Its far better to lose playing well than to win a sloppy game.
    If we remove the significance of results, we become open to excellence, growth and joy.

  6. Mike on September 1, 2020 at 4:29 pm

    I learned a lot and will try to apply this tonight..
    Gracias amiga

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