The Importance of Positive Self-Talk for Irish Dance
Updated: Apr 13
All day long, you have an ongoing conversation with yourself. “What should I wear today?”, “I have to remember to do this homework assignment.”, “I’m tired.”, etc. This is self-talk.
If you are in the middle of an intense dance class or at a competition, this dialog becomes critical to your development and performance. It’s in these moments that you have the opportunity to become your most effective coach as negative vs. positive self-talk has huge effects on your performance.
Negative self-talk has been shown to hurt your confidence, increase anxiety, and lower the enjoyment of what you’re doing. Whereas positive self-talk, decreases anxiety, improves concentration and focus, and allows you to perform better.
How do you know if your self-talk is negative or positive?
Most likely, you may not know if your self-talk is negative or positive. When I’m unsure, I like to ask myself one question, WOULD YOU SAY THAT TO YOUR FEIS FRIEND?
Here’s an example:
You’re in dance class and learning a new step. Do you say,
Example 1: I’m so bad at this. I can’t do this new trick.
Example 2: I need to put some more work into this piece. Keep working hard at it and you’ll get it.
Which of these two examples would you say to your feis friends? Definitely example 2. This is an example of positive self-talk whereas example 1 would be an example of negative self-talk (and something you would NEVER say to your feis friends).
Like any other Irish dance skill, positive self-talk is a hard skill to master and takes practice. Follow the below three steps to begin transforming your self-talk today!
Step 1: Begin by choosing a mantra to use in class. “Push!”, “you’ve got this”, “keep working”, etc. Use this mantra throughout the class to help you stay focused and motivated.
Step 2: Build upon your mantra and expand your dialog. Once you’re in the habit of saying your mantra, it’s now time to use other phrases to help coach yourself. Let’s say you’re at a competition and preparing for your first dance. Instead of saying, “I’m so nervous, what if I fall?”, you may say, “You’ve got this! You’ve performed a strong reel many times before and you can do it again.”.
Step 3: Consistently practice self-talk. The more you practice it, the easier it will be and the more effective it will be. Carry this self talk over to school, extra-curricular activities and throughout your daily life.
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Tod, D., Hardy, J., & Oliver, E. J. (2011). Effects of self-talk: A systematic review. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 33, 666–687.
Hatzigeorgiadis, A., et al. Self-Talk and Sports Performance A Meta-Analysis. Perspectives on Psychological Science July2011 vol. 6 no. 4 348-356