Mechanisms underlying the self-talk-performance relationship: The effects of motivational self-talk on self-confidence and anxiety
Objectives: The present study examined the effects of motivational self-talk on self-confidence, anxiety, and task performance in young athletes. Methods: Participants were 72 tennis players. The experiment was conducted in five sessions: baseline assessment, three training sessions, and final assessment. After the baseline assessment participants were divided and assigned randomly into experimental and control groups. The two groups followed the same training program with the experimental group practicing the use of self-talk. In the last session, the final assessment took place. A forehand drive test was used to evaluate task performance, and the Competitive Anxiety Inventory-2R was used to assess self-confidence and anxiety. Results: A two-way mixed model MANOVA revealed that task performance improved for the experimental group (p<.01) and remained stable for the control group: self-confidence increased (p<.01) and cognitive anxiety decreased (p<.05) for the experimental group, whereas no changes were observed for the control group. Correlation analysis revealed that changes in task performance were moderately related to changes in self-confidence (p<.05). Conclusions: The results of the study showed that self-talk can enhance self-confidence and reduce cognitive anxiety. Furthermore, it is suggested that increases in self-confidence can be regarded as a viable function explaining the facilitating effects of self-talk on performance. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.