The effect of self-talk in learning the volleyball service skill and self-efficacy improvement


  • Eleni Zetou Democritus University of Thrace, Greece
  • Nikolas Vernadakis Democritus University of Thrace, Greece
  • Evangelos Bebetsos Democritus University of Thrace, Greece
  • Eleftheria Makraki Democritus University of Thrace, Greece



Self-Talk, Skill learning, Service, Volleyball, Self-Efficacy


In this study the effect of self-talk on learning the volleyball service skill was examined and also the self-efficacy improvement. Participants were 57 female players 13 years old (mean age =12.83, SD=0.97) with two years experience (Μ=1.99, SD=0.67). Prior to the beginning of the program, participants were randomly assigned into two groups: a. the instructional self-talk group (ISTG, n = 28) and b. the control (traditional) group (CG, n = 29). All athletes followed a four-week practice program, aiming at overhand service skill learning and self-efficacy improvement. The program consisted of two practice units (60 min) per week. Participants of ISTG were taught to use the self-talk (for technique) loud before they performed the service drills. The control group received traditional feedback, that is, knowledge of performance and knowledge of results provided by the instructor. Service performance was assessed by videotaped evaluations in five basic elements of skill. There were three measurement periods for field test: pre-, post- and retention tests (one week after post-test). ANOVA repeated measures revealed significant interaction between groups and measures. There was also significant interaction between groups and self-efficacy scores. The results indicated that participants of the ISTG had better scores in the final measurement than the control group, when technique was evaluated and improved also their self-efficacy. In conclusion the Self-talk helps female volleyball athletes to improve performance and learning of overhand service skill and to improve also their self-efficacy. This study adds some useful elements to practitioners and how they used self-talk in the practice.


Download data is not yet available.


Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychol. Rev. 84:191-215.

Bandura, A. (1986). Social Foundation of Thought and Action: A Social Cognitive Theory. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.

Biglan, A. (1987). A behavior-analytic critique of Bandura's self-efficacy theory. Behavior Analyst 10:1-15.

Botterill, C. (1990). Sport psychology and professional hockey. The Sport Psychologist, 4, pp. 358–368.

Defrancesco, C., & Burke, K.L. (1997). Performance enhancement strategies used in a tennis tournament. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 28, pp. 185-195.

Feltz, D.L. (1982). Path analysis of the causal elements in Bandura's theory of self-efficacy and an anxiety-based model of avoidance behavior. 1. Pers. Soc. Psychology, 42:764-781.

Feltz, D.L. (1988). Gender differences in the causal elements of self-efficacy on a high avoidance motor task. J. Sport Psychology. 10, 151-166.

Feltz, D.L., & Mugno, D.A. (1983). A replication of the path analysis of the causal elements in Bandura's theory of self-efficacy and the influence of autonomic perception. J. Sport Psychology, 5:263-277.

Gould, D., Finch, L.M.P., & Jackson, S.A. (1993). Coping strategies used by national champion figure skaters. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 64, pp. 453-468.

Green, B.S. & Salkind, J.N. (2003). Using SPSS for Windows and Macintosh (3rd ed.). New Jersey: Pearson Education.

Hackfort, D., & Schwenkmezger, P. (1993). Anxiety. In R. N. Singer,M. Murphy, and L. K. Tennant (Eds.), Handbook of research on sport psychology (pp. 328–364). New York: Macmillan.

Halliwell, W. (1990). Providing sport psychology consulting services in professional hockey. The Sport Psychologist, 4, pp. 369–377.

Hamilton, R. A., Scott, D. & MacDougall, M. P. (2007). Assessing the Effectiveness of Self-Talk Interventions on Endurance Performance. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 19:2, pp. 226 – 239.

Hanton S., Mellalieu S.D. & Hall R. (2004). Self – confidence and anxiety interpretation: Aqualitative investigation. Psychology of sport and exercise, 5, pp. 477 – 495.

Hardy, J, Hall, C. R. & Alexander, M. R. (2001). 'Exploring self- talk and affective states in sport', Journal of Sports Sciences, 19:7, pp. 469 – 475.

Hardy, J., Gammage, K., & Hall, C. R. (2001). A descriptive study of athletes self-talk. The Sport Psychologist, 15, pp. 306–318.

Hardy, J., Hall, C. R., & Hardy, L. (2005). Quantifying athlete self-talk. Journal of Sports Sciences, 23, pp. 905–917.

Harvey, D. T., Van Raalte, J. L., & Brewer, B. W. (2002). Relationship between self-talk and golf performance. International Sports Journal, 6, pp. 84–91.

Hatzigeorgiadis, A., Theodorakis, Y., & Zourbanos, N. (2004). Self-talk in the swimming pool: The effects of ST on thought content and performance on water-polo tasks. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 16, pp. 138-150.

Hatzigeorgiadis, A., Zourbanos, N. & Theodorakis, Y. (2007). The moderating effects of self- talk content on self- talk functions. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 19, pp. 240 -251.

Highlen, P. S., & Bennett, B. B. (1983). Elite divers and wrestlers: A comparison between open and closed skilled athletes. Journal of Sport Psychology, 5, pp. 390–409.

Holt, N. L. (2003). Coping in professional sport: A case study of an experienced cricket player. The Online Journal of Sport Psychology, 5, pp. 10.

Johnson, J.J.M., Hrycaiko, D.W., Johnson, G.V., & Hallas, J.M. (2004). Self-talk and female youth soccer performance. The Sport Psychologist, 18, pp. 44-59.

Kazdin, A.E. (1978). Conceptual and assessment issues raised by self-efficacy theory. In S. Rachman (ed.). Advances in Behavior Research and Therapy, Vol. 1. Oxford: Pergamon Press, pp. 177-185.

Kendall, G., Hrycaiko, D., Martin, G. L., & Kendall, T. (1990). The effects of an imagery rehearsal, relaxation, and self-talk package on basketball game performance. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 12(2), pp. 157–166.

Kirsch, I. (1980). "Microanalytic" analyses of efficacy expectations as predictors of performance. Cog. Ther. Res. 4:259-262.

Kirsch, I., & Wickless, C. V. (1983). Concordance rates between self-efficacy and approach behavior are redundant. Cog. Ther. Res. 7:179-188.

Kirschenbaum, D. S., Owens, D., & O'Connor, A. (1998). Smart golf: Preliminary evaluation of a simple, yet comprehensive, approach to improving and scoring the mental game. The Sport Psychologist, 12, pp. 271–282.

Landin, D. (1994). The role of verbal cues in skill learning. Quest, 46, pp. 299–313.

Landin, D., & Hebert, E. P. (1999). The influence of ST on the performance of skilled female tennis players. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 11, pp. 263–282.

Lodge, J., Harte, D., & Tripp, G. (1998). Children's self-talk under conditions of mild anxiety. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 12, pp. 153-176.

Madigan, R., Frey, R. D., & Matlock, T. S. (1992). Cognitive strategies of university athletes. Canadian Journal of Sport Science, 17, pp. 135–140.

Mallett, C. J., & Hanrahan, S. J. (1997) Race modeling: An effective strategy for the 100m sprinter? The Sport Psychologist, 11, pp. 72–85.

Martens, R. (1987).Coaches guide to sport psychology. Champaign IL: Human Kinetics.

McAuley, E. (1985). Modeling and self-efficacy: A test of Bandura's model. 1. Sport Psychologist, 7:283-295.

McPherson, S. L. (2000). Expert-novice differences in planning strategies during collegiate singles tennis competition. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 22(1), pp. 39–62.

Ming, S., & Martin, G. L. (1996). Single-subject evaluation of a self-talk package for improving figure skating performance. The Sport Psychologist, 10(3), pp. 227–238.

Morris T. & Andersen M. B. (2007). Psychological intervention programs for reduction of injury in ballet dancers. Research in sports medicine, 15, pp. 13 – 32.

Orlick, T. (1986). Psyched for sport: Mental training for athletes. Champaign, IL Leisure Press.

Palmer, S. L. A (1992). comparison of mental practice techniques as applied to the developing competitive figure skater. The Sport Psychologist, 6(2), pp. 148–155.

Papaioannou, A., Ballon, F., Theodorakis, Y., & Auwelle, Y. V. (2004). Combined effect of goal setting and self-talk in performance of a soccer-shooting task. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 98, pp.89–99.

Papaioannou, A., Theodorakis, Y., & Goudas, M. (1999). For better teaching in physical education lessons. Thessaloniki, Salto press.

Park, J. K. (2000). Coping strategies used by Korean national athletes. The Sport Psychologist, 14, 63–80.

Perkos, S., Theodorakis, Y., & Chroni, S. (2002). Enhancing performance and skill acquisition in novice basketball players with instructional self-talk. The Sport Psychologist, 16, pp. 368-383.

Rushall, B. S. (1984).The content of competition thinking. In W. F. Straub, and J. M. Williams, (Eds.), Cognitive sport psychology (pp. 51–62). Lansing, NY: Sport Science Associates.

Slogrove, L., Potgieter, J. R., & Foxcroft, C. D. (2003). Thought sampling of cricketers during batting. S. A. Journal for Research in Sport, Physical Education and Recreation, 25, pp. 97–113.

Theodorakis, Y. (1996). The influence of goals, commitment, self-efficacy and self satisfaction on motor performance. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 8, pp. 171-182.

Theodorakis, Y., Goudas, M., & Papaioannou, A. (2000). Sport performance for excellence. (p. 87). Thessaloniki, Christodoulidis press.

Theodorakis, Y., Weinberg, R., Natsis, P., Douma, I., & Kazakas, P. (2000). The effects of Motivational versus instructional self-talk on improving motor performance. The Sport Psychologist, 14, pp. 253-272.

Thomas, T. R., & Fogarty, G. J. (1997). Psychological skills in training in golf: The role of individual differences in cognitive preferences. The Sport Psychologist, 11, pp. 86–106.

Tsiggilis, N., Daroglou, T., Ardamerinos, N., Partemian, S., & Ioakimidis, P. (2003). The influence of self-talk in self-confidence and in performance of handball test. Inquiries in sport and physical education, Vol.1 (2), pp. 189 – 196.

Van Raalte, J. L., Brewer, B. W., Rivera, P. M., & Petitpas, A. J. (1994). The relationship between observable self-talk and competitive junior players' match performances. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 16, pp. 400–415.

Wang, L.,Huddleston, S.,& Peng, L. (2003). Psychological skill use by Chinese swimmers. International Sports Journal, 7, pp. 48–55.

Wanlin, C. M., Hrycaiko, D. W., Martin, G. L., & Mahon, M. (1997). The effects of a goal-setting package on the performance of speed skaters. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 9, pp. 212–228.

Weinberg, R. S., Grove, R., & Jackson, A. (1992). Strategies for building self-efficacy in tennis players: A comparative analysis of Australian and American coaches. The Sport Psychologist, 6, pp. 3–13.

Weinberg, R. S., Smith, J., Jackson, A., & Gould, D. (1984). Effect of association, dissociation, and positive self-talk on endurance performance. Canadian Journal of Applied Sport Sciences, 9, pp. 25–32.

Weinberg, R., & Jackson, A. (1990). Building self-efficacy in tennis players: A coach's perspective. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 2(2), pp. 164–174.

Wilkes, R.L., & Summers, J.J. (1984). Cognitions, mediating variables, and strength performance. J. Sport Psychology, 6:351-359.

Ziegler, S. G. (1987). Effects of stimulus cueing on the acquisition of ground strokes by beginning tennis players. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 20, pp. 405–411.

Zinsser, N., Bunker, L., & Williams, J. M. (2001).Cognitive techniques for building confidence and enhancing performance. In J.M. Williams, (Ed.), Applied sport psychology: Personal growth to peak performance (4th Ed.), (pp. 284–311). Mountain View, CA: Mayfield.


Statistics RUA



How to Cite

Zetou, E., Vernadakis, N., Bebetsos, E., & Makraki, E. (2012). The effect of self-talk in learning the volleyball service skill and self-efficacy improvement. Journal of Human Sport and Exercise, 7(4), 794–805.



Performance Analysis of Sport

Most read articles by the same author(s)