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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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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.

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Jón Gregersen, Antonis Hatzigeorgiadis, Evangelos Galanis, Nikos Comoutos, and Athanasios Papaioannou

This study examined the effects of a self-talk intervention on selective attention in a state of ego depletion. Participants were 62 undergraduate students with a mean age of 20.02 years (SD = 1.17). The experiment was conducted in four consecutive sessions. Following baseline assessment, participants were randomly assigned into experimental and control groups. A two-session training was conducted for the two groups, with the experimental group using self-talk. In the final assessment, participants performed a selective attention test, including visual and auditory components, following a task inducing a state of ego depletion. The analysis showed that participants of the experimental group achieved a higher percentage of correct responses on the visual test and produced faster reaction times in both the visual and the auditory test compared with participants of the control group. The results of this study suggest that the use of self-talk can benefit selective attention for participants in states of ego depletion.

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Nikos Zourbanos, Antonis Hatzigeorgiadis, Nikos Tsiakaras, Stiliani Chroni, and Yannis Theodorakis

The aim of the present research was to investigate the relationship between coaching behavior and athletes’ inherent self-talk (ST). Three studies were conducted. The first study tested the construct validity of the Coaching Behavior Questionnaire (CBQ) in the Greek language, and provided support for its original factor structure. The second study examined the relationships between coaching behavior and athletes’ ST in field, with two different samples. The results showed that supportive coaching behavior was positively related to positive ST (in one sample) and negatively related to negative ST (in both samples), whereas negative coaching behavior was negatively related to positive ST (in one sample) and positively related to negative ST (in both samples). Finally, the third study examined the relationships experimentally, to produce evidence regarding the direction of causality. The results showed that variations in coaching behavior affected participants’ ST. Overall, the results of the present investigation provided considerable evidence regarding the links between coaching behavior and athletes’ ST and suggested that coaches may have an impact on athletes’ thoughts.

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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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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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Martin J. Lee, Jean Whitehead, Nikos Ntoumanis, and Antonis Hatzigeorgiadis

This research examines the value-expressive function of attitudes and achievement goal theory in predicting moral attitudes. In Study 1, the Youth Sport Values Questionnaire (YSVQ; Lee, Whitehead, & Balchin, 2000) was modified to measure moral, competence, and status values. In Study 2, structural equation modeling on data from 549 competitors (317 males, 232 females) aged 12–15 years showed that moral and competence values predicted prosocial attitudes, whereas moral (negatively) and status values (positively) predicted antisocial attitudes. Competence and status values predicted task and ego orientation, respectively, and task and ego orientation partially mediated the effect of competence values on prosocial attitudes and of status values on antisocial attitudes, respectively. The role of sport values is discussed, and new research directions are proposed.

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Maria Kavussanu, Philip Hurst, Mariya Yukhymenko-Lescroart, Evangelos Galanis, Ailish King, Antonis Hatzigeorgiadis, and Christopher Ring

Objectives: The authors aimed to develop a moral intervention and to determine whether it was more effective in preventing doping than an educational (i.e., knowledge-based) intervention; their primary outcome was doping likelihood, and the secondary outcomes were moral identity, moral disengagement, moral atmosphere, and anticipated guilt. Methods: Eligible athletes (N = 303) in the United Kingdom and Greece took part in the study. The authors randomly assigned 33 clubs to either the moral or the educational intervention. They measured outcomes pre- and postintervention and at 3- and 6-month follow-up. Results: Athletes in both interventions in both countries reported lower doping likelihood and moral disengagement and higher guilt from pre- to postintervention. These effects were maintained at the 3- and 6-month follow-ups. There were no effects on moral identity or moral atmosphere. Conclusions: In addition to disseminating information about doping, doping prevention programs should include content that focuses on moral variables.