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James Hardy, Nikos Comoutos, and Antonis Hatzigeorgiadis

Over the last 20 years research investigating self-talk in the context of sport has expanded rapidly enhancing our understanding of the construct. In the present article, we provide a brief historical review of the sports-oriented self-talk literature. In so doing we identify landmark investigations and review conceptual, research, and measurement themes present within the literature. We review this empirically based literature, distinguishing between three time periods: (1) the early foundations of self-talk research, up to the end of the 1990s; (2) the developmental years of systematic self-talk research during the 2000s; and (3) the modern day maturation of self-talk research, post-2011.

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Alexander Tibor Latinjak, Raquel Font-Lladó, Nikos Zourbanos, and Antonis Hatzigeorgiadis

The purpose of this single-case study was to describe a goal-directed self-talk (ST) intervention with an elite athlete. The participant was a 36-year-old elite orienteerer, who declared himself to be continuously engaged in some sort of autonomous self-dialogue. During six sessions, we undertook an intervention which started with identifying variety of relevant problematic sport situations and goal-directed ST in them. Subsequently, through questioning, the original ST was challenged and alternative instructions were theoretically examined before putting them into practice. The participant valued highly the intervention process and its outcomes. Overall, the study provides preliminary evidence on the effectiveness of goal-directed ST interventions and encourages research to further explore their potential.

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Nikos Zourbanos, Antonis Hatzigeorgiadis, Stiliani Chroni, Yannis Theodorakis, and Athanasios Papaioannou

The aim of the present investigation was to develop an instrument assessing the content and the structure of athletes’ self-talk. The study was conducted in three stages. In the first stage, a large pool of items was generated and content analysis was used to organize the items into categories. Furthermore, item-content relevance analysis was conducted to help identifying the most appropriate items. In Stage 2, the factor structure of the instrument was examined by a series of exploratory factor analyses (Sample A: N = 507), whereas in Stage 3 the results of the exploratory factor analysis were retested through confirmatory factor analyses (Sample B: N = 766) and at the same time concurrent validity were assessed. The analyses revealed eight factors, four positive (psych up, confidence, anxiety control and instruction), three negative (worry, disengagement and somatic fatigue) and one neutral (irrelevant thoughts). The findings of the study provide evidence regarding the multidimensionality of self-talk, suggesting that ASTQS seems a psychometrically sound instrument that could help us developing cognitive-behavioral theories and interventions to examine and modify athletes’ self-talk.

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Antonis Hatzigeorgiadis, Nikos Zourbanos, Christos Goltsios, and Yannis Theodorakis

The purpose of the current study was to examine the effects of motivational self-talk on self-efficacy and performance. Participants were 46 young tennis players (mean age 13.26, SD 1.96 years). The experiment was completed in five sessions. In the first session, participants performed a forehand drive task. Subsequently, they were divided into an experimental and a control group. Both groups followed the same training protocol for three sessions, with the experimental group practicing self-talk. In the final session, participants repeated the forehand drive task, with participants in the experimental group using motivational self-talk. Mixed model ANOVAs revealed significant group by time interactions for self-efficacy (p < .05) and performance (p < .01). Follow-up comparisons showed that self-efficacy and performance of the experimental group increased significantly (p < .01), whereas self-efficacy and performance of the control group had no significant changes. Furthermore, correlation analysis showed that increases in self-efficacy were positively related to increases in performance (p < .05). The results of the study suggest that increases in self-efficacy may be a viable mechanism explaining the facilitating effects of self-talk on performance.

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Evangelos Galanis, Antonis Hatzigeorgiadis, Nikos Comoutos, Fedra Charachousi, and Xavier Sanchez

This study explored the effectiveness of self-talk strategies on task performance under conditions of external distraction in laboratory and field experiments. In the laboratory experiment, 28 sport science students (M age 21.48±1.58 years) were tested on a computer game requiring attention and fine execution following a baseline assessment and a short self-talk training. In the field experiment, 28 female basketball players (M age 20.96±4.51 years) were tested on free-throwing, following a baseline assessment and a six-week intervention. In both settings the final assessment took place under conditions of external distraction (noncontinuous, sudden, loud noise). Analyses of covariance showed that participants of the self-talk group performed better than participants of the control group. Findings suggest that self-talk can counter the effects of distraction on performance, and indicate that the attentional effects of self-talk is a viable mechanism to explain the facilitating effects of self-talk on performance.

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Nikos Zourbanos, Antonis Hatzigeorgiadis, Dimitris Bardas, and Yannis Theodorakis

The present study examined the effects of instructional and motivational self-talk on handball performance using a novel task (nondominant arm) and a learned task (dominant arm) in primary school students. Participants were randomly assigned into two experimental groups (instructional and motivational) and one control group. The results revealed that for both tasks instructional and motivational self-talk groups improved their performance significantly in comparison with the control group and that for the nondominant arm instructional self-talk had a larger effect compared with motivational self-talk. The results suggest that instructional self-talk in the form of external focused cues may be more beneficial in the early stages of learning.