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Athletes face a difficult task. They need to believe in themselves. They must accept as true that they can win the competition. When an athlete begins to doubt his or herself, the result can be a poor performance. This, in turn, can produce a downward spiral. All this can be changed if the athlete believes in their ability to win. To accomplish this, many turn towards the power of positive thinking.

positive thinkingWhat is Positive Thinking?

Positive thinking is based on the concepts established by an American group of thinkers called New Thought. They were popular in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This group combined religious beliefs with secular concepts to establish a link between the mind and the body. The precept was that in order to be successful, the two had to work in a positive fashion.

In the same period, one man, a pastor for the Marble Collegiate Church, New York City, Norman Vincent Peale (1898-1993), began what soon became known as Pealism. Borrowing the notion of “the Power of Positive Thinking, from a New Thought author and pastor, Charles Fillmore (1854-1948), Peale created an easily accessible and applicable approach he called “The Power of Positive Thinking.”

In 1952, he published a book on the subject. Essentially, it stated that whatever you decide is the truth about yourself will have an effect on what you can or cannot do. If you perceive yourself in a negative light, you will be a failure. If you regard yourself in a positive fashion, you will be successful in all you undertake.

Positive thinking meant you needed to consider your outlook on life. If it was negative, you needed to alter it. By setting goals and visualization, you could rewire the pattern of your brain from negative to positive. If you did so, you would become successful in all aspects of your life.

How can an Athlete Apply it?

Athletes can turn to the power of positive thinking to help them succeed. It does not matter whether it is a high school meet or an Olympic trial, positive thinking can help you win. It does so by a series of affirmations or positive self-statements. In other words, you create a short positive statement. It clearly states and supports your goal and what you want to be, or do.athlete

An affirmation statement is an “I am” statement. You need to write it down. It must also adhere to the following characteristics if it is to be successful in accentuating the positive and eliminating the negative.

  • The affirmation is a positive statement – always
  • It must always be in the present tense. It is important that anything you write down or affirm is in the here-and-now
  • It must be personal. This is to ensure you realize it is  control over yourself and no other individual

The process is simple. You write down initially your short-term goal and accompany it by an affirmation. The same procedure is followed for both your intermediate goal and your long-term goals. It is all about identifying your goals and affirming them – putting them into a mental positive light. It is all about being positive – sure that the next training session, the next meet and the next trial will result in accomplishing the set goals.


Positive thinking is an integral and extremely important part of setting your goals if you are an athlete. If you allow your mind to be consumed with negative thoughts before, during or after an event, you will not obtain a positive result. If, however, you replace the negative thoughts with positive ones, affirmations, you can reach the goals you set for yourself as an athlete.


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