You can do it! Scientists find urging yourself on in the second person is the key to sporting success
Author: Henry Bodkin
Athletes who urge themselves on using the second person are more likely to triumph, new research has found.
Sportsmen and women have a greater chance of success if at the critical moment they say to themselves “you can do it” rather than “I can do it”, the study revealed.
Scientists already know that “self-talk” can have a positive effect on athletes, particularly those taking part in endurance sports.
However, until now no one has questioned whether the precise grammar of urging oneself on makes any difference.
Researchers at Bangor University analysed 22 cyclists undertaking a series of 10km time trials.
They found those who used the second person consistently completed the trial quicker and produced more power.
These faster athletes did not perceive themselves to have worked harder.
The scientists cannot say for sure why one grammatical formulation holds an advantage over the other, however they suggest that using “you” helps distance the athlete from the physical trauma of keeping going and put the challenge in perspective.
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