Perceived Functions Of Instructional And Motivational Self-talk For Intermediate Skiers

Por: Antonis Hatzigeorgiadis, Stiliani Chroni e Yannis Theodorakis.

Athens 2004: Pre-olympic Congress

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External and internal dialogues applied to offer instruction and reinforcement to performers during skill execution are
described as self-talk (ST) [1, 5]. Through these dialogues, individuals have a chance to express their feelings, to
verbalize their perceptions, to regulate and revise their thoughts in an effort to facilitate and enhance skill learning and
execution [1]. Only recently, the functions of athletes’ self-reported ST were investigated [2, 6]. This study examined
the perceptions of intermediate skiers’ regarding the effects of instructional and motivational ST cues during task
execution on the five functions of ST as those examined by the Functions of Self-talk Questionnaire (FSTQ) [4].

Twelve college students participated, with a mean ski experience of 2 years (SD = .60). The study involved a 3-day
program. Day 1: Participants were skied a 50 meter distance executing eight to ten medium-radius parallel turns (4 -
6m). They executed a total of 8x50 meter runs. At the start of each run, they were instructed to repeat a specific ST cue.
Two motivational and two instructional ST cues were used. Day 2: Identical to Day 1, as students executed the same
task using four new ST cues. Day 3: Participants skied 6x50 meter runs with medium-radius parallel turns. During each
run they were asked to use a ST cue of their choice, from the list of ST cues that were used the two previous days. At
the end of each set of 3 runs the FSTQ [4] was completed to evaluate their perceptions on the effect of the ST cues they
used. The 25-item scale assesses 5 dimensions of ST effect, namely confidence, automaticity, effort, mood, and
attention. Before completing the FSTQ participants were asked to indicate on a 7-point scale the degree to which they
thought the use of ST facilitated or debilitated their skiing.

Participants scored high regarding the perceived facilitative effect of ST and low regarding the perceived debilitative
effect of ST for both types of ST. Repeated measures MANOVA investigated possible differences between the effects
of ST type (instructional/motivational) on the 5 hypothesized ST functions. The analysis revealed significant
multivariate effect, F (5, 7) = 18.86, p < .01, η2 = .93. Examination of the univariate tests revealed than no univariate
effect was significant at the .05 level. Considering the small sample size, the lack of statistical significance was not
surprising. Nevertheless, important trends could be identified when examining the effect sizes. In particular, large
effects can be detected for confidence, mood and automaticity. Participants scored higher on these three ST functions
when referring to motivational ST than when referring to instructional ST.

Discussion / Conclusions
Overall, the participants perceived that both types of ST were helpful when executing parallel turns. Motivational ST
reinforces their effort to become more competent and to purse better ski technique, while instructional ST provides
them with specific technical tips that facilitate execution [3, 5]. Furthermore, the motivational ST cues were also
perceived to facilitate automatic execution of parallel turns, whereas instructional ST cues were perceived as less
facilitating. Finally, instructional and motivational ST cues were perceived to have an equally strong effect on skiers’
attention. The present study was the first one in a series of studies which attempt to explain how ST works. Further
exploration on how ST facilitates or debilitates performance appears to be a necessity.

[1]. Hackfort & Schwenkmezger (1993). In R.N. Singer, M. Murphy & L.K. Tennant (Eds.), Handbook of research on
sport psychology, (pp. 328- 364). NY: Macmillan.
[2]. Hardy, J., Gammage, K., & Hall, C.R. (2001The Sport Psych., 15, 306-318.
[3]. Perkos, S., Theodorakis, Y., & Chroni, S. (2002). The Sport Psych., 16, 368-383.
[4]. Theodorakis, Y. (2003, November). Oral presentation at the 1st Congress of the Psychological Society of Northern
Greece. Volos, Greece.
[5]. Theodorakis, Y., Chroni, S., Laparidis, K., Bebetsos, E., & Douma, I. (2001). Perc. & Mot. Skills, 92, 309-315
Instructional Motivational
M SD M SD F p Η2
Facilitative 6.17 .72 6.33 .89 1.00 .34 .08
Debilitative 1.50 .52 1.42 .67 0.19 .67 .02
Confidence 5.46 .92 5.78 .70 3.35 .95 .23
Automaticity 4.44 .78 4.78 .81 2.42 .15 .18
Effort 5.89 .60 5.94 .72 0.07 .79 .01
Mood 5.17 1.17 5.57 .99 3.43 .09 .24
Attention 6.31 .49 6.25 .59 0.07 .80 .01
[6]. Van Raalte, J.L., Brewer, B.W., Rivera, P.M., & Petitpas, A.J. (1994). J. Sport & Exer. Psych., 16, 400-415.

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