There is no fuss and fanfare about Bannister. When he was asked to explain that first four minute mile—and the art of record breaking—he answered with original directness: “it’s the ability to take more out of yourself than you’ve got” Text by Gerald Holland Issue Date: January 3, 1955.
It was thought to be the impossible—breaking the 4 minute barrier.
And then, there was Roger Bannister.
In the year 1954, this legend made history, breaking the 4 minute mile!
But in a coupe of weeks, several other athletes broke the same record! What caused this dramatic increase in performance in so many athletes? In a phrase, Self Efficacy.
Self efficacy can be defined as a situation specific self confidence. Studies have found that enhanced self efficacy can increase performance. Therefore, methods to improve self efficacy have been investigated extensively in the literature.
Bandura suggested that there were 4 sources of self efficacy, but this has now been modified to 6 primary sources.
Here is a diagram:
I want to particularly focus in on verbal persuasion.
Verbal persuasion has been identified as an effective technique to enhance self efficacy (Brown, 2003). Verbal persuasion involves positively influencing an individual to accomplish a task through verbal speech or self persuasion (Brown, 2003). It can be provided from an outside source such as a coach telling an athlete “I know you can do it” or through positive self talk, such as an athlete telling him/her self “I can do this.”
Brown (2003) investigated the effectiveness of positive self talk training on self efficacy. Participants consisted of 184 undergraduate students separated into 42 teams. The experimenters used a self efficacy questionnaire to measure self efficacy, and measured performance by the amount of points scored. Participants in the experimental condition were given a 75 minute lecture on positive self talk. Participants were instructed to report times in which they used negative verbal talk, and the effects it had on performance. And also when positive verbal talk was used and the effect it had on performance. During the implementation of positive self talk, participants were first instructed to notice when they used negative self talk. Second, participants were instructed to deal with the negative self talk by asking a neutral question such as “what can we do? What skills do we have to accomplish this? What have we done in the past?” (Brown, 2003, p. 8). Lastly, participants were encouraged to use a positive statement such as stating a solution to the problem, and saying to themselves they could do it. Based on the self efficacy questionnaires, and the amount of points scored, results indicated that positive self talk significantly enhanced self efficacy and performance, above the control condition.
In a related experiment on the influence of verbal persuasion on self efficacy, James, Wise, Posner, and Walker (2004) compared the effects on bench press efficacy, of a verbal message containing specific performance feedback against one containing general statements. Participants consisted of 32 women, who did not practice on the bench press 18 months prior to the experiment. All participants performed on a vertical bench press machine for 10 repetitions, and immediately filled a bench press efficacy scale. Following this, participants were exposed to two sources of verbal persuasion, and then immediately filled the bench press efficacy scale, again. Condition one received specific performance feedback, in which they were told “those 10 repetitions you just performed with (the amount of weight each lifter used was placed here) looked easy. You looked strong and did not appear to have any problems lifting the weight. I bet you could lift more weight” (James et al., 2004, p. 27). Condition two received general performance feedback, in which they were told “I have no doubt that you have the muscular strength and ability to perform the bench press exercise. The bench press exercise is easy to learn and the machine will help you perform the exercise correctly” (James et al., 2004, p. 27). The speaker was a certified strength and conditioning coach, who had instructed weight lifters and bodybuilders, and competed in power lifting events. All participants were informed of the speaker’s qualifications. Results indicated that both verbal messages significantly raised self efficacy above the control condition; however, there was no significant difference between experimental conditions. Performance was not measured. These results suggest that both general and specific verbal persuasion messages are effective methods to enhance self efficacy.
These studies can easily be applied to weight lifting.
First, let’s discuss how to use positive self talk.
If an athlete is performing a set of squats, before they go, they often may have feelings of apprehension, and tell themselves “wow that looks heavy, I hope I can do this…” this leads to enhanced anxiety, decreased self efficacy, and consequently, most commonly decreased performance. This is also known as a negative self fulfilling prophecy. This is what happened to the runners of Roger Banisters day. They let someone else’s negative expectations of their performance negatively influence them and their thought patterns. Instead, we want to utilize a positive self fulfilling prophecy.
Therefore, we should utilize the method prescribed by Brown (2003).
1.) Catch and stop negative self talk or negative verbal persuasion. This may include comments such as “man that looks heavy!” This is known as thought stopping or “parking it.” Take your negative thought and put it inside a bag and bury it. A technique Sport Psychologists use is to come up with a stop sign in their mind such as red light, and this is meant to stimulate the response of thought stopping. So whenever you come up with a negative thought, pull out your stimulus to thought stop, and stop thinking negatively.
2.) Ask a neutral question such as “what can I do? What skills do we have to accomplish this? What have I done in the past to solve this problem?”
3.) Lastly, use a positive statement such as stating a solution to the problem, and saying to yourself, "that weight is easy, I know I can get that." Also, smile, and enjoy the lift! [img]/forum/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]
This is also vital for your training partner to use. Your partner cannot tell you before your set “are you sure you can do that weight?” he should tell you, “that weight is easy, you can do that no problem!”
Want to know the master of positive self talk? You have no further to look than Mr. O!
"Yeah budddyyy!!! Light weight!!! Nothing but a peanut!! BOOOOOOOOOOHH!!"""
These are statements used by the champion almost before all of his sets. Anyone who has watched him knows what I am talking about. He is the master of positive self talk!
What is also amazing is that God clearly gave us instructions on how to think.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. </font>
He also gave us authority to cast our vain thoughts, such as the negative emotions described in this post:
<font color="blue"> Romans 15:6
That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. </font>
<font color="red">1 Corinthians 2:16
For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? but we have the mind of Christ. </font>
So we can also apply this to our spiritual lives.
If you have a sinful thought, you can use the method prescribed by Brown (2003). Ask God to help you and replace your temptation with holy thoughts, and he will give you the power to overcome!
So if you are dealing with a temptation, say, you want to go get out to a party you know will be sinful. You should first immediately stop this evil thought in your mind.
Second, ask your self a neutral question. This may be, “is it worth it?” what can I do besides this activity that is wholesome? Etc.
Then, you could say something like quote a scripture. Or say God is good, and I know he will get me through this temptation. Then state a solution to the problem such as “I’ll go read the bible” or talk to some friends, or go out, or go exercise. Anything that distracts your from this temptation.