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Say It Out Loud! One Way to Measure the Invisible Mental Skill Set!

Mindset Made Simple Tip #191 – Listen or watch HERE Catch our special guest Tip reader today! Hint: He's a soon-to- be 12 year old and he's pretty good!

Thanks to top-level athletes like the great Michael Phelps,  Michigan’s JJ McCarthy, the 49rs George Kittle, soccer superstar Alex Morgan, and of course, the best female athlete on the planet, Serena Williams, mental training has made it to mainstream training.  (All linked to articles you can share with your team to show the power of the mental game).

Yes, I still hear comments like “My kid doesn’t need mental help” or “That stuff is for kids who are struggling” and “We just don’t have time for that stuff”.  So we still have some work to do, but more people believe that mental performance is directly related to actual performance today than yesterday.  One step at a time.

Aside from comments, questions come up like “How can you tell if they are doing it?”

That’s a good one!  But I have an idea!

When I am working with a group and I ask them to mentally rehearse something, it is REALLY hard to know what they are seeing, feeling or experiencing.  It’s also hard to know what they are saying to themselves as they perform their detailed pre-performance routines or refocus techniques.

And in the end, what you say is more important than what you do!

So, to measure what is going on inside, let’s dive into Dr. Shawn Achor’s bag of tricks and get them to VERBALIZE – OUT LOUD!

I was talking with a tennis coach the other day and she mentioned that THE GAP between unforced error and good tennis was way too wide for some of her players.  We talked about having them talk out loud from the time they or their opponent get the ball for the next point. 

What were they talking about?  What they were GOING TO DO on their serve or receive.  Simple stuff.  Decide where the serve should go.  Picture the spot and say it out loud, “The ball will land 1 inch from the center service line.”  Then more simple statements about the actions needed to get the job done.

It could be as simple as saying, "I'll serve to the opponent's backhand, then swiftly move to the net for a volley.”  We can add the next step of rehearsing it as she moves to the service line.

Why will this work simple out loud self-talk help?  Here are a few solid reasons!

Talking out loud, as simple as it sounds, creates a psychological contract and can play a significant role in motivating athletes to follow through on their plans. 

At its core, verbalizing intentions involves articulating goals, strategies, and action steps…it keeps us focused on WHAT IS IMPORTANT NOW, and as coaches, we can hear the ideas floating around in that all-important headspace.  This social contract, since it is said out loud, even if no one else is paying attention, serves as a powerful motivator that can drive athletes to align their actions with what they said they would do!

Growth mindset expert Dr. Carol Dweck agrees that “verbalizing plans activates a growth mindset, fostering adaptability and innovation in athletes."

Now it’s time to be accountable to our words…and we are telling our brain and body what we want them to do!  BLUEPRINTS…cut to the images of what we want, too!

In essence, by vocalizing intentions, athletes are not only making a public declaration of their objectives – who cares who is listening - but are also creating a psychological commitment to achieving them and laying the pathway to move toward what they want! 

Furthermore, verbalizing intentions can enhance athletes' sense of agency and control over their performance.

By vocalizing their plans, athletes reinforce their belief in their ability to influence outcomes through deliberate action. This sense of agency fosters confidence and resilience, both key psychological attributes that contribute to peak performance.

What we say to ourselves matters – and saying it out loud allows for accountability, strategic planning (which often goes out the window after a mistake), and the use of productive language and self-talk (call it positive if you want, but it doesn’t mean happy or roses and butterflies) can have huge effects on our mindset! 

Let’s take it one step further.  We can get our athletes more comfortable with all this talking out-loud stuff if we start with asking them to talk out loud as they mentally rehearse! 

We know the benefits of mental rehearsal and there is a ton of research that indicates that the same neurological networks are used to imagine movement and to actually move!

So, let’s hear what they are telling themselves to do!

Sports psychologist Dr. Jim Taylor emphasizes the importance of internal dialogue in shaping performance outcomes. He says, "Our thoughts influence our actions more than we realize. Verbalizing mental rehearsal forces athletes to confront their inner dialogue, ensuring it aligns with their goals and aspirations." 

I’ll add that it forces them to ensure that what they say, see and feel is truly WHAT THEY WANT!

In the end, all of this TALKING gives us the opportunity to, as author Ann Bradford says, “Tell the negative committee that meets inside your head to sit down and shut up!”

Need one more reason to try this?  Dr. Angela Duckworth says "Creating an environment where athletes feel comfortable vocalizing their thoughts fosters psychological safety and enhances performance."

It may not seem safe at first…and you will probably hear some off-the-wall stuff.  But at least we can get everyone on the same page…and help athletes become more aware of the power of their voice and choice!

Talk out loud?  That’s it? 

It’s not a magic bullet.  For the potential benefits, it seems like a pretty simple way to measure whether or not someone is using mental training techniques and measuring whether or not they are where they need to be to perform.  It takes very little, if any extra time out of our practice or competitions.  

What’s not to like?   Incorporating verbalization into your mental game plan could be can be a game-changer!

Let me know what you think!  I can’t wait to talk more about this!! Send me thoughts, ideas, rebukes...I think this can make a difference, but you are the ones dealing with the outcomes!

Say it out loud!!!


P.S. Want someone from the outside to sell this game-changing technique? Reach out today to schedule a session and give them new tools to manage their mindset and performance!  Shoot me a text at 234-206-0946 or an email at and get scheduled today!

Julie Jones

Mental Performance Coach

SSB Performance • 234-206-0946 

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