NLP & Motivation in Sports 1

Written by Terry Elston

hurdles on a running track

This is a series of NLP & Motivation in Sports: There will be following articles. NLP in sports is an essential ingredient to gain the edge that athletes desire.

“There isn’t a person anywhere who isn’t capable of doing more than he thinks he can”

Henry Ford

You can always do more than you think. You can always do better than your best. Limits and handicaps are placed in your life for you to overcome them. They are not put there as a reason to whine. You can always do more than you think. You can always do better than your best. Limits and handicaps are placed in your life for you to overcome them. They are not put there as a reason to whine. What do you expect from yourself? What do you think is possible? What “unbreakable” limits are you placing on yourself as an excuse for not going for it? From an NLP perspective, how you know what’s ‘real’ internally will determine the amount of natural motivation you have for winning. When you approach the sporting challenge, your internal ‘map of your internal world’ will supply you with pictures, sounds and feelings toward or away from you being successful.

"Think outside of the box" written over and across the outline of a box

I always cringe when I see the England football team walk up to take penalties. The strategies are abysmal! They are left on their own too much (I’d have a coach in their ear the whole time up until the last seconds); they look like they have a pinball machine running in their heads as they do their final walk up; they look like they are going to miss…because that’s what’s going through their minds in pictures, sounds and feelings. How much do their coaches get paid? Does nobody coach the mental game of penalties? How difficult would it be to coach them to picture the success and focus on exactly where that ball is going to go..and NOT thinking about how it’s going to miss! If you like to win in sport being able to utilise and manage your mental attitude is critical. This applies whether you compete in local activities or are a world-class participant.  The club golfer knows this from the differences between one day’s play and the following day’s play. So does the athlete. Or the team player.

NLP provides a very effective route to identifying what accounts for the results you get – whether these are favourable or unfavourable results. You can use it to analyse successful performance in order to be able to further improve the skills-attitude blend or to pass it on to others. And you can assess an unsuccessful performance to determine which elements to replace and which to modify. As an athlete and a person you are always limited by what you believe is possible. Start to employ the practice of putting successful images in your mind…or even factual images of technical ability. And if you fall on your face, get right back up and try it again, and again and again if necessary. You can always do more than you think you can. ALWAYS!

Our world is a never ending testimony how in every impossible resides a “possible.” Question your limiting beliefs. Challenge them through personal action. Train yourself on a daily basis to get in the habit of trying to do the impossible. When you have technical ability, spend much more time visualising the outcomes than before. Your  limiting beliefs are terrible liars and you don’t want to listen to them! Instead place success in your mind.

DON’T THINK, JUST PLAY

presuppositions of success and failure

To perform to your best you have to put yourself on automatic, trust your skills and training, and let your performance happen. Thinking too much, before and during your performances will only tend to mess up the flow. Of course you will have practised and practised, and maybe practised a bit more! yet when you are in the field, keep your focus away from your thoughts and on the game and exactly what you are doing. Thinking too much will distract you from the task at hand and slow you down in every way. When you notice that little voice in your head chattering away negatively, tell it, “Thanks for sharing!” and immediately bring your focus back to what you’re doing. Don’t think, just react! Don’t think just feel! Don’t think, just trust yourself!

I hope you liked this 1st episode on NLP in sports coaching.

Have a look at a similar article on success and failure here: