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How to Avoid Negative Thoughts in Sports

In sports, there is so much external pressure coming from family, coaches, the team, and ultimately yourself (at any scale). In order to approach that pressure properly and allow yourself to remain in control of the outcome, one must avoid negative thoughts.

Although sports are unique for how blatant external negativity can be (you could be in a stadium with thousands of booing sports fanatics, or on a high school field with angry parents), the relationship with negativity and yourself as an athlete begins within. If you can master your relationship with yourself, those external forces that have the potential to bring you down will melt away.

Internal negative thoughts come in the form of idealism, blame, and doubt. In a sport, it is easy to imagine the trophy, blame a teammate, and doubt yourself. The real game, and what it truly means to be an athlete, is the ability to combat that with your own inner strength.

  • Idealism can be beat by realism. Instead of seeing the trophy (it is ok to be ambitious, but don’t let the image consume you), see the next goal you are going to score, the skills you want to perfect, the running time you want to beat.
  • Blame can be beat by responsibility. If you miss a pass by your teammate because the pass could have been better, don’t rush to blame the teammate. Don’t blame the screaming fans. Instead, take responsibility and prepare your reaction. How will you handle that situation next time? What skill can you work on that will allow your muscles to memorize what to do in that situation? How can you better yourself?
  • Doubt can be beat by pride. Instead of doubting your abilities on the field, track, court, etc… take pride in the things that you can do well and take pride in yourself for having the mental capacity to want to work on and fix some of the things that you can do better. Recognizing faults is ok and necessary when it comes to sports. But you are allowed to take pride in your strengths and ability to work on your weaknesses. That is a major part of confidence.

Like a skill in a sport, if you work on these daily and focus to apply them, they will become integrated into your nature. Positivity will come with ease and you will be able to support yourself and your teammates. When your internal confidence is mastered with positivity, you unknowingly begin to radiate and touch others that may need it as well, thus advancing you as a team and a force.

You will become better and mentally tougher. Being equipped to face external negativity with internal positivity will allow you to focus. And like mentioned in the paragraph prior, will inevitably change the tune of those external forces. Coaches will be more understanding if they see effort, teammates will be more supportive if they feel support in return. Your athletic environment as a whole will flourish.


Mike Hartman


Had a 17 year professional career playing with the Buffalo Sabres, Winnipeg Jets, Tampa Bay Lightning, Stanley Cup Champion New York Rangers, Europe, Minors & Team USA. Coached in the USA Hockey Development program. Started off-season coaching schools focusing on leading individuals and team building programs. Certified in Axiological Profiles, Behaviors & Motivators (DISC) National Academy of Sports Medicine and is a High Performance Wellness Strategist.

Location:  New York, New York

Last Active:  November 28, 2018 11:49 AM (EDT)

Zip Code: 10001 0 Reviews

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