Academic journal article Journal of Physical Education and Sport

The Effect of Instructional Self-Talk on Performance and Learning the Backstroke of Young Swimmers and on the Perceived Functions of It

Academic journal article Journal of Physical Education and Sport

The Effect of Instructional Self-Talk on Performance and Learning the Backstroke of Young Swimmers and on the Perceived Functions of It

Article excerpt

Introduction

Previous studies have demonstrated that specific cognitive strategies influence the intensity and duration of someone's performance (Scott, Scott, Bedic, & Dowd, 1999; Tammen, 1996). One of the most commonly used strategies is that of self-talk (Gould, Finch, & Jackson, 1993; Madigan, Frey, & Matlock, 1992). Hardy, Gammage, and Hall, (2001) defines self-talking as the internal dialogue in which the individual interprets his lived perceptions, changes his evaluations and beliefs and gives himself instructions and reinforcements. Also, Hardy (2006) later, describes self-talk as: a) expressions or statements that address ourselves, b) being multidimensional from its nature, c) having explanatory points that coincide with the content of the statements that are said, d) dynamics, and e) accomplishing, at least for an athlete, two functions: a guiding and a motivating function. This underlines the importance of language to the development of thought and, hence, the development of action.

Self-talk includes the thoughts of athletes with themselves that are made silently or out loud, either during the execution of an activity, or a sport skill, either before or after its execution. This process of thoughts happens usually unconsciously and affects the feelings and, consequently, the acts of the athletes. It has been suggested that self-talk interventions are some of the most widely applied and effective strategies used by athletes (Park, 2000; Weinberg, Grove, & Jackson, 1992). According to Lepadatu (2011), self-talk is an important tool for the learning process. Zinsser, Bunker, and Williams (1998) stated that self-talk influences performance in a number of ways including the acquisition of skills, the development of the self-regulation of habits and the self-confidence. Self-talk strategies have been examined in a wide variety of sports and tasks including golf (Harvey, Van Raalte, & Brewer, 2002), ice hockey (Rogerson & Hrycaiko, 2002), cricket (Holt, 2003; Slogrove, Potgieter, & Foxcroft, 2003), swimming (Wang, Huddleston, & Peng, 2003), soccer (Papaioannou, Ballon, Theodorakis, & Auwelle, 2004), tennis (Mamassis & Doganis, 2004), and water polo (Hatzigeorgiadis, Theodorakis, & Zourbanos, 2004). The popularity of self-talk would seem to support the belief that it is related to sport performance.

The content of individual self-talk tends to be positive, negative, or neutral, although the specific type used may be task-specific (Hatzigeorgiadis et al., 2004, Moran, 1996). It has been suggested by Hardy, Jones, and Gould (1996) that positive self-talk may enhance performance through increases in confidence and anxiety control and Landin (1994) proposed that the effectiveness of positive self-talk was related to attentional processes. A series of studies have reported that positive self-talk is associated with enhanced performance in a number of sports, including figure skating (Ming & Martin, 1996), golf (Kirschenbaum, Owens, & O'Connor, 1998; Thomas & Fogarty, 1997), soccer (Papaioannou et al., 2004), and tennis (Mamassis & Doganis, 2004; McPherson, 2000; Defrancesco & Burke, 1997). Dagrou, Gauvin, and Halliwell (1992) reported that positive self-talk was associated with superior performance, as did Schill, Monroe, Evans, and Ramanaiah (1978). Landin and Hebert (1999) suggested that athletes use self-talk in both practice and competition as the result of, or to bring about, a specific outcome. Anderson (1997) suggested that self-talk refers to what athletes say to themselves in an attempt to think both more appropriately about their performance and to direct their actions in such a way to reach the desired outcome.

It has been suggested that different types of self-talk may be influential across different sports (Hatzigeorgiadis, Theodorakis, & Zourbanos, 2004). In the literature there are several important works valuing the motivational and instructional self-talking in performances from different sports (Theodorakis, & Chroni, 2002; Hardy, Gammage, & Hall, 2001; Landin, & Hebert, 1999). …

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