man sits on ground cross legged, chaotic image to his right is turned into ordered arrows to his left after passing through his mind.

During my time as a college football player, the lead up to each game was concentrated. Each player focused on what he needed to be ready to perform. These periods were marked by focused routines and well-worn behavior. 

But the night before the game was something else. Something special. Friday nights were for the team. For us to come together and be a single unit, rather than a group of individuals. In some ways, these moments were more memorable than the games themselves. 

There is one specific Friday night I will always remember. It was in the locker room before our season opener in 2004. As a captain, it was my duty to deliver a message that would uplift our team. Instead of a stereotypical “football” message filled with aggressiv verbal cues and cranked up volume, I opted to TALK to my team about POSITIVE ENERGY and VISUALIZATION.

I passed around a single football. Something for each teammate to touch, grab, and flip around. As each person took hold of the ball, I asked him to close his eyes and visualize his most memorable experience from playing the game of football. I wanted them to VISUALIZE it and transfer that experience into the football that every teammate was going to touch.  

The Value of Positive Thinking

We blended all of those positive thoughts into a single focus. POSITIVE THOUGHTS became a kind of POSITIVE SYNERGY that would bleed into gameday.  All our memorable experiences were together, on a ball, in a place where everyone was able to touch it. Metaphorically, yes, but it felt real. It was a pattern that would repeat all season.

A woman visualizes her success on the rowing machine.

After competing and coaching at a high level for over 15 years, I have repeatedly observed that POSITIVE THINKING and VISUALIZATION play a major role in training and competition. Simply, a POSITIVE THOUGHT can snowball into POSITIVE THINKING. And then POSITIVITY becomes contagious.  

People often ask, how a POSITIVE ATTITUDE can push one’s life toward some pretty amazing results. The simple fact is that you can your brain to generate and duplicate POSITIVE THINKING just as you would train your body to run a route or a marathon. A successful training routine is created by a plan, blossomed by intrinsic motivation, and maintained through POSITIVE reinforcement or results. 
Here are 5 simple ways to introduce POSITIVE THINKING into your day and even into your workout routines. 


Person uses a pair of scissors to turn "I can't do it" written on a card into "I can do it"

Affirmation means the process of affirming (declaring) something. I introduced this into my daily life after my wife began it several years ago. She might be the most POSITIVE person I know so I decided to incorporate it into my days. We learned the power of affirmations from a friend who was on staff for the University of Oklahoma’s Football program in the 70’s and later for the San Francisco 49ers. 

The affirmation is simple, and personal. You decide on your affirmation(s) for the day, write them on a notecard, place it by your bedside or desk for access all day long.  

Some great examples for someone beginning a new workout: I am completely focused on getting in the best shape. I am ready to dominate all that’s required to become the best!   

Find great workout affirmations at Workout Affirmations

2. P.O.P

Woman gives kudos to male athlete after completion of hard training session.

This stands for “Pick up Or Praise”. Whether it is in sports, families, or workplace, P.O.P delivers the message of “I Care for you”. Bringing P.O.P into your life will instantly bring benefits. 

Not only will the people around you shift into a more positive place, you’ll feel better about yourself for having done it. This begins to spread the POSITIVE THOUGHTS and POSITIVE ENERGY to the people around you.

To engage in POP, just start paying attention to the people around you. Notice when people do something worthy of praise (like when your spouse cleans the dishes or mows the lawn) or look like they might need a simple ‘pick me up’ (a co-worker is frustrated with a project). Then stop what you’re doing and you deliver your POP.

Bring some P.O.P into your gym, family, or workplace and you will get POSITIVE results guaranteed.  

Some great ways for you to bring POP into your daily routine: Create a goal of delivering 3 “pickups/praises” during your workout. Focus on the small things people do every day that make your life easier. Thank and praise them for it.


Athlete stops to visualize her run before beginning.

“I know it when I see it.” We all have said this.  Visual cues can trigger a memory but more importantly, it can trigger a beginning.  POSITIVE visualization is when you create an image in your head not of something that happened in your past, but something you want to have happen in the future. It’s a great exercise to engage in at the beginning of your workout/day. 

You close your eyes and envision yourself completing a task. Or you can create an image of something that might externally motivates you.  

POSITIVE visualization can also occur at the end of a workout/day, by rescanning your POSITIVE actions for the day. This will generate a feeling of self-worth that leads to internal motivation.  

A great example for someone beginning a new workout: Imagine yourself as you complete a tough set/exercise. Now imagine what it looks like when you crush it. Play it over a few times, taking note of the details: your form, your speed, your breathing. 


Football players discuss their plan before executing a play.

Surrounding yourself with POSITIVE people can have an enormous impact on your attitude. Evaluate the people that will be around you during the times when you need that P.O.P. Remember the old adage, “kindness is contagious.” 

A POSITIVE circle around you will assist you in sticking to your plan and dealing with any negative thoughts that start to creep in. It will also help strengthen your body language, which is a huge factor when you’re in an exercise routine and it begins to get hard.

A great example for someone beginning a new workout: Workout with the people who share their POSITIVE affirmations with you. Look for people who will push you physically, but also support you and your commitment to positive visualization.  


Chart showing how to replace negative terms with more positive framing.

We all need a little Math/English in our life so the last approach here is “adding” by “subtracting”.  It is time to add POSITIVE words to our language and omit the negative ones.

This tactic is all about framing your upcoming tasks and past experiences in a more positive manner. If you focus on something that’s impossible, you will avoid it. But a challenge demands that you meet and surmount it.

A great way to incorporate the ADD BY SUBTRACTING idea is doing a POSITIVE word of the day. Select a POSITIVE word each day and use it in your social media, with friends, or in your workout.

Binding together these POSITIVE THINKING tactics with VISUALIZATION can lead you down a successful road. To help get you started, and sprinkle some POSITIVITY into your life, here’s one of my favorite affirmations: 

The more POSITIVITY I bring, the path to GREATNESS is clear

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