From Theory to Practice: Applications of Self-Talk in Sport
Keywords:organic self-talk, strategic self-talk, reflexive intervention, performance enhancement, psychological skills development
In recent years there has been an increasing interest in the self-talk literature for a better understanding of the phenomenon by developing a solid theoretical framework, but also exploring methods for the most effective application of self-talk in sports. The development, evaluation and implementation of self-talk intervention programs is at the core of the literature, highlighting its significant value in improving sport performance. Self-talk interventions are designed by sports psychologists and coaches, and applied by athletes during performance, with the ultimate goal of regulating psychological processes for development, autonomy, and increased sport performance. Two types of self-talk interventions have been developed through the years. Traditional self-talk interventions involve the strategic use of verbal cues to regulate psychological (e.g. attention), emotional (e.g. anxiety) and motivational (e.g. effort) processes. Recently, a new approach to self-talk interventions, reflexive self-talk interventions, has been developed. Reflexive self-talk interventions involve a process of reflection upon goal-directed self-talk to enhance metacognitive knowledge, and subsequently facilitate self-regulation and activation of psychological skills to resolve psychological challenges. The present article provides guidance on the most effective design and implementation of the two approaches of self-talk intervention programs in sports, providing an important tool for sports psychologists, coaches and athletes.