On Investigating Self-Talk: A Descriptive Experience Sampling Study of Inner Experience During Golf Performance

in The Sport Psychologist
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Although self-talk has been shown to be an effective performance enhancement tool, accessing athletes’ ongoing inner experiences, including self-talk, has proven difficult. This study investigated the feasibility and desirability of using Descriptive Experience Sampling (DES) to sample athletes’ inner experiences during competition, thus avoiding potential distortions that arise from retrospective reports and questionnaires. Golfers (N = 10) were trained as DES participants in their natural environments; then their experiences were sampled during a golf tournament. More self-talk occurred during tournament play than in natural environments. Self-talk was a frequent but not ubiquitous component of experience during tournament play, inner-speaking self-talk was six times as frequent as speaking aloud self-talk, and effortful System 2 self-talk was rare. The results of this research demonstrate that DES can be feasibly implemented in sport settings and may be a useful approach for researchers exploring athletes’ inner experiences.

Dickens is with the Dept. of Counseling Services, University of Nevada–Reno, Reno, NV. Van Raalte is with the Dept. of Psychology, Springfield College, Springfield, MA. Hurlburt is with the Dept. of Psychology, University of Nevada–Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV.

Address author correspondence to Yani L. Dickens at ydickens@unr.edu.
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