Who Are You Now?
Using Cue Statements for Performance Excellence
If you haven’t noticed by now, I tend to geek out on research that provides insights to help performers be at their best when it matters most. I also love practical knowledge, tips, tricks and words of wisdom, so as long as they also help performers be at their best when it matters most.
This week, I had the opportunity to hear Addie Bracy speak. Addie is a Nike sponsored ultrarunner and author of Mental Training for Ultrarunning. When asked how she digs herself out of the lowest of lows on her 100-mile races, Addie said she asks herself, “Who are you now?” and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. So…
In this week’s 3 Point’s, I’ll talk about cue statements and how they can help you perform your best when it matters most.
1. Cue statements are short, personal statements said to yourself to refocus your concentration. According to the Association of Applied Sport Psychology, cue statements should be:
Personal – You need to find a cue statement that works for you. One way to develop a personal cue statement is to ask the question, "If I were the best coach I could be, how would I look and act?"
Productive – Instead of positive, I prefer to use the term productive. To be effective in refocusing after mistakes, a cue statement should be productive. Focus on what makes you the best you can be; do not spend time criticizing yourself.
Short – The ideal cue statement allows you to quickly refocus but does not interfere with the necessary thoughts during performance. Some performers prefer a single word such as "focus," while others use a short personal statement.
2. Cue statements serve as a tool to bring our attention to the present moment. As we know, competition can bring frustration, adversity and setbacks, and these can steal our attention. Cue statements can shift our attention away from our setbacks, and the thoughts and emotions that come with them, to how we want to be and how we want to act.
I’ll give you a personal example: by the end of my playing career I had read enough pop-psych and self-help books to realize that each time I stepped on to the court I wanted to be aggressive and I wanted to be a great teammate. Two things I could control. When things were going well, shots were going in and we were winning, this was easy. But a cold start, a bad shooting streak and all of the sudden my attention was directed at those things instead of being a great teammate and aggressive. Cue the cue statement.
3. Who are you now?
First, who are you on your best days? How would you look and act?
Now, what about when your back is against the wall? After a bad half, a 3-game losing streak, a tough season… Ask yourself, "Who are you now?”