1Department of Sports Psychology, Faculty of Physical Education and Sport Sciences, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran
2Department of Motor Behavior, Faculty of Physical Education and Sport Sciences, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran
Introduction: Self-talk broadly is defined as a dialogue in which an individual interprets feelings and perceptions, regulates and changes evaluations and convictions, and gives themselves instructions and reinforcement. There are various categories of self-talk as educational, motivational, positive, neutral, and negative (Barwood, 2015). The effect of self-talk on performance has been examined in many studies before; however, challenged self-talk in a competitive situation is the one that has not been investigated in any studies before (Dewolf, et al., 2020). There are mixed results regarding the performance effects of negative self-talk. An interesting consideration is that negative self-talk may not have to be replaced to improve performance (Nedergaard et al., 2021). The purpose of the present study was to determine if negative self-talk can improve performance when interpreted as a challenge.
Methods: Participants (N = 40) completed a period of self-talk and skills set training for ten sessions and were randomized into experiment group (i.e., challenging self-talk) and control group. During a subsequent session, participants attended their previously scheduled match and were video recorded, and their won rollies were also noted. In the pre-test (first competition), the won rollies were measured in both groups. The experimental group performed ten sessions of self-talk exercises, and the control group had only physical activities; after the intervention, the post-test (second competition) was performed. One-variable covariance analysis was used to analyze the data.
Results: The results revealed a significant group-by-time interaction effect. The challenging self-talk group significantly outperformed the control group in the number of gained scores and won rollies.
Conclusion: Overall, these results provide initial support for implementing challenging self-talk and suggest that novice athletes’ performance excels more than expert athletes when applying challenged negative self-talk.