Positive Self Talk

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discriminated with regard to the content of self talk between two broad dimensions, positive and negative self talk. Positives has been conceptualised as self-addressed statements in the form of praise and encouragement [4] and negative self talk has been conceptualised as statements in the form of criticism and self-preoccupation [5]. Contemporary research has further discriminated self talk with regard to the purposes it serves, as instructional or motivational. Instructional self talk refers to statements aiming to direct attention and guide action through technical remarks or tactical choices, whereas motivational self talk refers to statements aiming to increase confidence, regulate effort and create positive moods [6]. Hardy [7] viewed ST as “verbalizations or statements addressed to the self, multidimensional in nature, having interpretive elements associated with the content of statements employed, is somewhat dynamic and serving at least two functions; instructional and motivational for the athlete” (p. 84). In sport settings, research has generally supported the beneficial effects of self talk strategies on performance [e.g., 8, 9], although field studies have been less supportive. In addition, contemporary research has begun to investigate mechanisms and functions of ST [10, 11] in order to extend research into new paths.

Field studies, where ST has been examined as thought content, have provided equivocal results regarding the relationship between ST and performance. Van Raalte, Brewer, Rivera and Petitpas [12] found that junior tennis players, who lost in matches, used more external negative ST. Furthermore, although external positive ST was not associated with better performance, players in their reports indicated that positive ST helped them to perform better. Van Raalte, Cornelius, Brewer, & Hatten [13] in a similar study with adult tennis players found that negative ST may not necessarily be related to defeat. In contrast, experimentally based research, where ST has been examined as a cognitive strategy, with specific cues being used, has consistently supported the effectiveness of ST [8, 9, 14, 15]. One aspect of ST that remains largely unexplored in the sport psychology field is antecedents of ST [13]. Research on factors that influence and shape athlete’s ST is lacking, urging Conroy and Metzler [16] to suggest that determining the origins of ST should become a priority in ST research. Recently, in another preliminary study, Zourbanos, Theodorakis, & Hatzigeorgiadis [17] investigated how athletes’ social environment can influence cognitive processes, such as ST. Their results showed that social support provided by coaches, in the form of esteem support, mediated the relationship between coaches’ supportive behaviour and athletes’ positive ST. Moreover, it was found that coaches’ negative activation predicted directly athletes’ negative ST.

Research regarding antecedents of ST has been conducted in educational psychology. In the relevant literature, a considerable amount of research has investigated the influence of significant others on children’s cognitions. Overall, teachers’ verbalizations have been found to influence children’s ST [18], but also their perceptions of ability [19] and self–esteem [20]. The identified relationships between significant others’ verbalisations and students’ ST have been explained by social cognitive theorists [21, 22]. In particular, it has been suggested that people engage in conversations with others and use other’s behaviours [21] and comments [22] in order to develop a clearer vision of themselves. In other words, remarks made by others sometimes can influence our way of thinking or talking to ourselves. Little attention has been given to the way coaches’ behaviour and statements affect athletes’ ST. The purpose of the present preliminary investigation was to examine the relationship between coaches’ behaviour and statements and athletes’ ST. In line with...
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