The culmination of your blood, sweat and tears is about to be exposed and laid all out on table. It’s showtime. You’ve trained, you’ve sacrificed, you have given your all to get to this moment in time. This could be your first performance or your hundred and first, but afterwards you will be faced with the same questions: Did you do your best? Did you believe in yourself? As an athlete, you show up every day whether you want to or not, right? Your body is there, but is your mind? On those tough days, what do you say to yourself? How do you get through them? What you think, say, and feel is your self-talk. If you are thinking negative thoughts as a result of stress, social comparison, or anything else, you will not perform at your peak. You cannot doubt yourself or feel badly about the work you put in. This is your life, your goals, your dreams, and your time to shine.

Negative thought patterns can creep in from your every day life and feelings of insecurity will follow. It’s the competitive nature to strive for greatness, and in a sense “never be satisfied.” As an athlete, you tend to be innately driven and it is a quality trait to have. However, be aware of downsides to this such as perfectionism, polarized thinking, and distorted thinking patterns. What kind of thoughts do you have? If you notice reservation, fear, and uncertainty, there is work for you to do. Let’s begin…

How to create a Self-Talk Script

Affirmations can help to drive mentality. The more you hear things the more you start to believe them, and the more you believe them the more they become your truth. What are you thinking about; success or failure? Your beliefs create an emotional reaction, or consequence, and this will turn into your behavior.

Writing a self-talk script can be short and sweet, written or recorded for playback, and have added elements such as music or images. Focus on the following steps to create a basic and short script, and from there you can enhance it and tailor it as you find out what you like best.

Step 1: Decide the purpose(s) of your script.


  1. Remind yourself of your assets, strengths, and desirable personal qualities
  2. Priorities and goals plus action plans to achieve them
  3. Recall past successes, particularly in similar situations or when overcoming obstacles, failure, or adversity
  4. Emphasize the quantity and quality of your preparation
  5. See all situations as a challenge versus a threat and have problem-solving strategies in your back pocket at all times
  6. Reframe negative thoughts
  7. Attribute your success to hard work and developing your skills and failure to to internal and controllable factors such as the need to improve your mental preparation and develop your skills more fully

Step 2: Identify specific thoughts for each purpose


  1. Assets, strengths, and desirable personal qualities
  • I am a talented person with skills and abilities that allow me to be as successful as I want to be in life
  1. Priorities and goals
  • Dreams become reality through hard work and sacrifice
  • This is a “can do,” “will do,” and “get things done” day
  1. Past success and how you overcome adversity
  • Overcoming failure helps me eliminate my weaknesses
  1. Quantity and quality of preparation
  • My physical, mental, technical and tactical training were carefully designed to prepare me perfectly to excel in this competition
  1. See situations as a challenge versus a threat
  • Everyone encounters failure and adversity. Champions rise above adversity by viewing problems as opportunities for excellence
  1. Reframe negative thoughts
  • Life is often unfair, and that is OK. I will continue to work hard because persistence pays off in the long run
  1. Attribute success to hard work and failure to the need to develop skills
  • This failure is temporary and can be overcome with hard work and persistent skill development

Step 3: Arrange your thoughts in an order that strengthens the impact.

Put the specific thoughts for each section in an order that you like

Step 4: Arrange the sections to create the best overall flow

Put your most powerful purpose(s) from Step 1 first and last.

Step 5: Develop a catchy introduction and a powerful conclusion

Get creative with the language and use vivid words with impactful meaning. Record your script over music or add it to the beginning of your playlist. Remember, you want to invoke passion and pride. This is for you and no one else.

Scripts should not be longer than 1-5 minutes so they can be repeated or listened to at least 3 times per day, while still being specific enough to trigger visual success and desired performance.

Take some time today to spend on your mental performance. This is not a difficult task, but you shouldn’t rush through it. If you put effort and energy into it, it will fuel you for it’s intended purpose. Go all in with your dedication and drive. Get out of your own way, because your performance is up to you.

If you need help creating a personal self-talk script, or you don’t even know where to start, I invite you to reach out to me on my contact page. There’s a reason athletes have coaches. Like I always say, why wouldn’t you want to give yourself an advantage?


Returning to sport after a serious injury is known to cause extreme excitement. Excitement is desired because you finally feel good again, but be mindful that it can also take the form of fear or ignorance. As a competitive athlete, playing your sport is your passion and drives all other areas of your life. Now that the piece is put back into place and the pie is whole again you are ready and rearin’ to go.

The longer you were sidelined the longer things will take to return to normal. The period of regaining strength, endurance, agility, and skill can feel frustrating if you were out for longer than a few months. Just because you no longer experience pain does not mean you are immediately back to your previous level of play. Muscle tissue and your central nervous system need time to adapt to become strong and quick once again. This is a time to really focus and dial in on your form and compensatory patterns. Gain strength in the basics.

Here are three common return to play concerns.


If you were cleared by your surgeon, doctor, or physical therapist, then you are ready to go. Athletic trainers and coaches will be useful to you now as a proper set of eyes. Graduating PT should give you confidence that your body is responding well to stimulus. It is extremely normal to be fearful of reinjury, but if you let that fire sit in your mind it can take a very long time to extinguish. Fear can lead to altered movement patterns and compensation. It can lead to excessive worrying and not enough doing. It can lead to another injury because of tense muscles or stress. Like Elsa, let it go, let it goooo!

100% Performance Level

Being on the sidelines for an extended period of time can feel like prison, and when you are set free you will want to get right back to the peak of your performance. It will take some time to get back to a high level of strength, power, agility, and endurance. Whether it was one month or six months your body needs time to adapt. This does not change if you are a paid professional athlete or playing on Varsity in high school. Frustration can lead to poor performance. Be patient. Have a strategic plan and adjust it as necessary. Put your focus on your goals and what you need to do to get back to your level of play.

Support of the Coach and Team

Your team also had to adjust while you were recovering. Psychosocial support is important and it is shown that athletes who have support of their coaches and teammates recover faster and have less depression and fear. Feeling like athletic trainers, coaches and teammates understand and support your recovery process rather than pressure you to return before you’re ready gives you an opportunity to feel like you can eventually reach your goals together. Not everyone will be on board or relate to you. They may have never been injured and therefore will not understand the recovery process. Educate them. This is a good opportunity to improve communication and work together for the goals of the team.

If you prepare yourself physically to return to play, it would be a disservice to yourself not to prepare mentally. Setting recovery goals can not only keep you focused, but also help you feel confident and accomplished. Goals show you on paper that you are getting better. Practicing relaxation techniques can help you reduce stress and muscle tension as you get used to your intense training once again. Guided imagery and visualization techniques can give you confidence in integrating back into competition when stakes are high. Make up your mind to use your mind and gain control over your return.


As an athlete, being injured is heartbreaking. Lifting, training, running, or competing is your lifeblood, or at the very least, it keeps you sane and happy. It is a form of meditation. Moving your body is therapeutic, fun, and helps your heart stay healthy. Your sleep is better, and you can eat more food because you need it to sustain your activity level. You can do more activities because you are fit. The reasons you train should matter, and because they matter, when it’s taken away from you it stings.

Injury comes in many forms. I work in a physical therapy office, and I’ve met the young, the old and the famous. Some have chronic pain, some are recovering from surgery, some have never addressed their pain, some have had cancer, and some have spinal cord injuries and are paralyzed from the waist down. No matter what it is, they can make up their mind to get better in some capacity. Unfortunately, fear surrounds pain in the form of mental blocks.

I want to talk about some of the critical mental blocks that come with injury:

Change in Activity

If you are very restricted, focus on what you can do. Even if you can’t do much, you can still do something. I’ve experienced injury both with and without a support team. I cannot tell you how important it is to find people who support you. Talk to people about what you’re going through, and let them help you. Find a doctor who you connect with and trust. They will tell you the truth and they will tell you what you need to hear. Talk to your friends and continue to hang out with them even though you’re probably depressed and want to sink into your couch. They might not completely understand, but they still care about you. Can’t lift or go to the gym? Walk someone’s dog. Can’t walk? Do seated exercises or get in a pool for some swimming. Just do something, because it’s far better than nothing.

Changes in your Body

This can feel the worst. When you work hard in the gym or on the field and eat a healthy diet, it most likely shows and you probably look good naked. Your body becomes a pristine machine and you feel good about yourself. It takes a lot of discipline to develop beautiful muscles and you’ve probably become attached. So, when your muscles start to atrophy and you look a little more fluffy than you’re used to, stop right there. This is a critical moment and I hope it doesn’t happen in the ice cream isle. Usually it will go one of two ways: you stop caring about your diet and gain twenty pounds denting a cushion in your couch, or you can accept it and know that if you keep your diet on track you will be able to get it all back when you’re better. It may not be easy to accept, but you could work a little on your personality so that at least people don’t like you for just your body. 

Change in Diet

Well, sorry to say you need to eat for less activity. If you track your macros or calories, sit down and plan out the changes you need to make so that you can be successful. Let go of some of your carbs if your activity level drops, but keep your protein about the same. This can vary per individual, but your body needs to heal and needs proper macronutrients to do so. Don’t eat less. Whatever you do, do not go crazy on the sweets or start the booze diet. Sugar fuels inflammation and depression, and those things go against the healing process. You don’t need a kale smoothie every day, but be mindful and remember how good you feel when you eat well.

Outlet for Energy

Find something to do that makes you feel good during the time you would normally go to the gym. This is kind of a game changer. Use that hour for yourself to do something that releases endorphins. If you can’t sweat or get your heart rate up, it’s going to be ok. If you can, go ride your bike outside or go for a walk. A little vitamin D will boost your mood. Use the time at home to work on business goals, or something that enhances your life. Really, though, pushing through pain and continuing to go to the gym when you are hurting will prolong your injury or make it worse. Stop doing that. This is the time to accept that you have to slow down and you can’t exert energy physically in the same way or you will pay for it later. Find something new for now.

Managing the Pain

We will address the pain cycle separately later, but this is probably the number one thing to get a grip on.  You could stock up on pain meds and lay on the couch while they take over your personality and spirit. Not a great idea. Rock-stars eventually get old. Try to take the bare minimum necessary to function fairly normal. If you must take a high dose of ibuprofen multiple times a day for months, take it with food so you don’t get an ulcer. Utilize physical therapy, massage, dry-needling, acupuncture, and ice or heat. If you can stay busy, the pain doesn’t present as much. Sleep is where healing occurs. Go to bed earlier and rest as much as possible. Even though it feels like you will never get out of pain, you will. Have that be your first goal, and when you meet it, celebrate.

Fear: Will I Recover and Be Able to Train Again?

Fear will hold you back big time. You might not even realize it. It is important to work with a doctor and coach to find safe movement. Yes, you will get better, but only if you make yourself top priority. Taking time off and allowing your body to heal and rest may seem like the hardest thing in the world. At first, it will be. Maybe it’s because you fight yourself. You don’t want to accept that you need to just stop completely and rest. Maybe it’s because you haven’t fully assessed or determined the problem. Research your injury. Play a role in your recovery decisions. I can’t tell you enough about your friend Patience.

Recovery times can be short, or take as long as six months to a year. With all of the variables, it’s a little different for everyone. There are some excellent and highly-effective mental skills tools you can learn and utilize to get a major one-up on this injury. Research shows that visualization, self-talk, and setting goals are a few tools you can use to help you accept, process and recover faster from an injury. These tools have shown to significantly speed up the healing process, and decrease the chance of re-injury in the future. Combine these tools with working on the mental blocks I discussed above and you are going to be better in no time. Why wouldn’t you want to give yourself an advantage?