Preparation techniques - breathing control and self talk

Performers use a variety of techniques to prepare themselves mentally for a performance. Two common techniques are breathing control and self-talk.

Breathing control

Breathing control is a physical - or physiological - process. This means it directly affects the body. The body and mind are interlinked, so breathing control also affects how an athlete feels. It affects their control of arousal.

When someone is anxious, they breathe from their upper chest. Breathing is rapid and shallow. Breathing control helps performers to breathe slowly and steadily from the diaphragm. This reduces anxiety. Performers can use different exercises to control their breathing.

The different types of breathing - chest breathing and diaphragmatic breathing.


Self-talk is a psychological process. This means it directly affects the mind. Self-talk is the voices in our heads. It is what we tell ourselves about a situation.

Self-talk can be:

  • positive – for example, 'I can run faster' or 'I will take this shot'
  • negative – for example, 'I'm no good at running' or 'I'll probably miss the goal'

Performers practise and use positive self-talk, especially when they are learning new skills or are in challenging situations during a performance.

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