Self-Talk and Competitive Balance Beam Performance

in The Sport Psychologist
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Little research has explored the relationship between highly skilled athletes’ self-talk and their competitive performance over the course of a season. For the current study, positive, negative, motivational, instructional, and functional dimensions of collegiate gymnasts’ (N = 141) self-talk were assessed. The gymnasts’ competitive balance beam performances in intercollegiate meets were also recorded. Multiple regression analysis revealed that positive self-talk significantly predicted balance beam performance and performance consistency. Significant positive correlations were found among key self-talk variables, except negative self-talk. Significant negative correlations were found between negative self-talk and self-talk functions (i.e., attention, cognitive and emotional control, and confidence). The results highlight the interrelationships among various types and functions of self-talk in competitive settings, and provide evidence for the ways in which self-talk is related to the performance of highly skilled athletes. Suggestions for how these findings might be applied by athletes, coaches, and sport psychology practitioners are provided.

Van Dyke is with the College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV. Van Raalte and Brewer are with the Dept. of Psychology, Springfield College, Springfield, MA. Mullin is with the Dept. of Physical Education and Health Education, Springfield College, Springfield, MA.

Address author correspondence to Erika Van Dyke at edv0001@mix.wvu.edu.
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