Problems with motivation and negative thinking are a thing I think we all struggle with from time to time. We join a gym, full of enthusiasm, buying the correct food, printing out the workout programmes and just generally ready to change our habits and get into the healthy lifestyle. Within a few weeks or months doubts can start to creep in however and we start giving ourselves excuses not to go. “It’s raining outside and I can’t be bothered today”, “I’m too tired after work”, “it will be too busy if I go now”. Any of these excuses sound familiar and what can we do to keep motivation? Negative thoughts can also creep in terms of competitive games and it is easy to let one bad match put you into a negative frame of mind, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy whereby you think you aren’t playing very well, and therefore don’t play very well. Negative thoughts and problems with motivation can be a massive issue for sportsmen and women and so what can we do to prevent these things? It’s your Sunday league football game, second half, the ball comes to you, you shoot, you miss. What do you do to get over it? Apart from utter expletives of course? The mental attitude is often overlooked in sports in preference for the physical side but the mental aspect is a massive component to success. One wrong move or mistake in a match can easily effect your performance for the rest of the game if you let it and so keeping a positive mental attitude is of crucial importance. Instead of focusing on the negatives of the match, we need to try and focus on the positives. Think how much fun you have playing a game you enjoy, how fit you are getting from regular exercise and focus on everything except the negative aspects. This will certainly aid in creating a positive mental attitude that you can take forward in sports and life in general. But what about motivation? As I’ve already said, there are always the negative doubts and lack of motivation due to tiredness, weather and just generally not being particularly enthusiastic about what we are doing. In this case setting a goal is really important. If we set ourselves small and achievable goals to aim for, our motivation can easily stay strong. If we are looking at going to the gym, try and increase your one rep max on the bench press for next month, even if it’s only by a few pounds. If we are doing martial arts, set yourself a goal of grading to your next belt in the next three months or so. These little goals will keep motivation high by having an aim to accomplish. Setting a routine is also crucial to this, if you say to yourself you will go to the gym Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 5pm after work, you are far more likely to go than if you only go when you fancy it. In addition to this, finding like minded people can be enormous help. Find a gym partner who has similar goals to yourself, or find a training partner for any sport and your motivation will increase, and negative thinking will decrease. A routine with your sport or workout programme can be the difference between sticking with it and losing interest. We all find it hard to be motivated sometimes but this is where self-discipline comes in and 9 times out of 10, once we get training we really enjoy it! So don’t neglect the mental aspect of your training as it’s a massive component in developing and increasing your skill level, staying motivated and not allowing negative thoughts to creep in.