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Performance Psychology: Taming the Inner Voice by Wendy Swift - CrossFit Journal

In Coaching

November 10, 2009

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Your inner monologue can be a source of strength or a cause of weakness. Wendy Swift explains how you can fill your head with positive thoughts that will result in PRs and high performance.

If everything that passed through your head was said out loud to another CrossFitter, would you be considered a good coach or a bad coach, a motivating coach or a demoralizing coach?

I’m talking about that little voice inside your head that runs commentary throughout your day. Some people call it their “inner voice”; psychologists call it “self-talk.” Whether we are aware of it or not, we cannot assume that our inner voice is always doing us good. Sometimes our inner voice tells us things that make us weak, or it causes us to make bad decisions.

Taming your inner voice is like everything else: it gets better with work. Way before your performance deteriorates, a whole range of poor-quality thinking occurs. You’re the only one who knows about it, and it causes you to back off just a little bit. Sometimes it is delaying tactics, and sometimes it is taking a softer option, but you know that in an honest assessment of your performance, it was not the best you could have done.

So to access a better performance, you need to work on your inner voice. You need to make your self-talk consistent and constructive. You need to take responsibility for what you allow yourself to think.

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12 Comments on “Performance Psychology: Taming the Inner Voice”


wrote …

What's funny is that my "inner" voice is usually so loud, other people in the gym think that I am talking to them.
"C'mon! One f-ing more!"
"Pick up the bar!"
"C'mon f-er! keep moving!" are all the sweetness that springs from my inner well of joy as I keep getting fitter as I grow older.


wrote …

This is so true! Thanks Wendy for such a great article today. I will coach and be coached in a whole new way.


wrote …

personally my "inner voice" can actually be too loud sometimes :)
there is a point where i know i can do more, but if i do im going to be FRIED for DAYS...

and just like brian i often end up with a louder inner voice. only for me its usually mixed in amongst some of the metal core im listening too :)


wrote …

Great article Wendy! Nice photo's. I think it's something that we all know we do but never hold ourselves accountable for. We all talk to ourselves when we do our WOD but it's not until the WOD is done and dusted that you realise how destructive your self talk can be.

I will definitely be having a long sit down chat with myself next WOD.


wrote …

Thanks Wendy, loved the article - as a long-time, chronic procrastinator and someone with a little whingeing bitch of an inner voice, i feel like your advice could definitely help me out!

Also, great to see such a good Journal article coming out of Australia - way to represent, guys - keep it up!


wrote …

My inner voice is telling me to quit atm...
i had the flu a couple of weeks ago and it realy made me weaker...
its hard getting back. so its telling me to quit.
but i wont listen... i wont.



It's funny how prescient the Journal can be sometimes. Right now I'm reading "The Now Habit" - Fiore. It's about developing effective self-talk and understanding the roots of procrastination. I thought that I was lazy or bad for being a procrastinator but that sort of thinking is outmoded. I heartily recommend the book, it's definitely something I feel jives with the Crossfit experience - getting better at life!


wrote …

Great article. Simple, practical and common sense. Nice to read something on a subject which is quite important but a bit overlooked.


wrote …

Great topic, great article. For me, this is about 90% of what Crossfit is all about. I start out each WOD with self talk about how I'm going to crush it. By the second round the pity party is usually is full force. I grew up a quitter. A total underachiever. I have to confront it in every WOD. The adversity is intense. I've gotten better. I love to hear elite CF athletes describe how they self-talk themselves through the moments of greatest suffering. I think this is what separates them from others - the ability to push though beyond a point where most others succumb to their inner voice which tells them to quit. It's a matter of mental strength under great adversity. The improvements I've made in pushing through the suffering of a WOD have affected every aspect of my life. To me, this is the most profound benefit of Crossfit, even more than the health and fitness improvements. I'd like to see more on this topic.


wrote …

Thank you for this article! My inner voice has been as much an issue for me as training and nutrition!


wrote …

Thanks for a great read, immediately useful info.


wrote …

Combined with what my coach was telling me, AA and this article I finally figured it out! My intensity, scores and attitude have changed dramatically. Thank you for this! I have passed it on to friends...


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