In this descriptive study, the four Ws (i.e., where, when, what, and why) of the use of self-talk were examined. Varsity athletes (78 male, 72 female), with a mean age of 20.68 years (SD = 1.90) read a self-statement oriented definition of self-talk and then answered the four questions in an open-ended format. Athletes reported using self-talk most frequently while partaking in their sports (when), at sport related venues (where). The “what” or content of self-talk use was categorized into five themes: nature, structure, person, task instructions, and miscellaneous. With regard to why athletes use self-talk, two main themes emerged from the data: cognitive and motivational. It was possible to further classify the two themes into seemingly specific and general levels, similar to Paivio’s (1985) classification of athletes’ use of mental imagery. Results for the present study provide descriptive data for the development of a conceptual frame work for the use of self-talk.
The authors are with the School of Kinesiology at the University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada N6A 3K7. E-mail: <firstname.lastname@example.org>.