The effect of self-talk on Tae-kwon-do skills’ learning of novice athletes and perceived use of it

Eleni Zetou, Nikolaos Vernadakis, Evangelos Bebetsos, Nikolaos Liadakis


The purpose of the present study was to investigate the effect of instructional self-talk on performance and learning two basic skills of W.T.F Tae-kwon-do (Ap chagi and Bandae jireugi), in the perceived use of self-talk of novice athletes as well as in the possible correlation between the dimensions (effort, automaticity, cognitive and emotional control, self-confidence and attention) of the “Functions of Self-Talk Questionnaire,-FSTQ” (Theodorakis, Hatzigeorgiadis & Chroni, 2008). The sample consisted of 36 novice boys and girls, 8-12 years old (M=9.53, SD=1.53) and were randomly divided into two groups, the experimental (instructional self-talk group, N = 18) and the control group (N = 18). The intervention program lasted 8 weeks (2 sessions per week). Before starting the practice of skills, the participants spoke aloud specific key-words for the proper use of the technical skill. Participants were evaluated with a pre-test in the beginning of the program, a post-test at the end and one week after the final test they were evaluated in retention test. Moreover the evaluation of skill involved ten trials every skill, which were recorded by a digital camera and evaluated in five main elements of skill, by two observers. The result showed that the instructional self-talk was more effective for performance and learning the skills than the group that received feedback with traditional teaching. The use of instructional self-talk on younger athletes helped them to learn the skills but also to develop the psychological dimensions of the questionnaire (effort, automaticity, cognitive and emotional control, self-confidence and attention). Instructional self-talk can be an additional tool in the hands of the coach / physical education teacher for teaching and improving skill performances in other sports.


Self-Talk; Instruction cues; Tae-Kwon-Do; Skill acquisition; Learning; Psychological skills


Chroni, S., & Kourtesopoulou, A. (2002). Sport recreation. The use of self-talk of climbing athletes. Sport Psychology, 13, 91-104.

Cotterill, S., Sanders, R., & Collins, D., (2010). Developing effective pre-performance routines in golf: Why don't we ask the golfer? Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, Vol. 22(1), pp. 51-64.

Cutton, D. M., & Landin, D. (2007). The Effects of Self-Talk and Augmented Feedback on Learning the Tennis Forehand. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 19:3, 288-303.

Cutton, D. M., & Landin, D. (2001). The effects of a cognitive learning strategy and augmented feedback on learning the tennis forehand. Journal of Sport Pedagogy, 7(1), 16–35.

Cutton, D. M., & Landin, D. (1999). The comparative effects of two cognitive learning strategies on learning the tennis forehand. Journal of Sport Pedagogy, 5(2), 33–53.

Dagrou, E., Gauvin, L., & Halliwell, W. (1992). Effects de langage positif, negatif et neuter sur la performance motrice. (Effects of positive, negative and neutral self-talk on motor performance). Canadian Journal of Sport Science, 17, 145-147.

Ellis, A. (1994). The sport of avoiding sport and exercise: A rational emotional behavior therapy perspective. The Sport Psychologist, 8, 248-261.

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

Hackfort, D., & Schwenkmezger, P. (1993). Anxiety. In R. N. Singer, M. Murphey, & L. K. Tennant, Handbook of Research on Sport Psychology (pp. 328–364). New York: MacMillan.

Hamilton, S. A., & Fremour, W. J. (1985). Cognitive behavioral training for college basketball free throw performance. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 9, 479-483.

Hardy, J. (2006). Speaking clearly: A critical review of the self-talk literature. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 7, 81–97.

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

Hatzigeorgiadis, A. (2006). Instructional and motivational self-talk: An investigation on perceived self-talk functions. Hellenic Journal of Psychology, 3(2), 164-175.

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

Hatzigeorgiadis, A., Zourbanos, N., Galanis, E., & Theodorakis, Y. (2011). Self-talk and Sports Performance: A meta-analysis. Perspectives οn Psychological Science, 6, 348-356.

Hatzigeorgiadis, A., Zourbanos, N., Goltsios, C., & Theodorakis, Y. (2008). Investigating the functions of self-talk: the effects of motivational self-talk on self-efficacy and performance in young tennis players. The Sport Psychologist, 22, 458-471.

Hatzigeorgiadis, A., Zourbanos, N., Mpoumpaki, S., & Theodorakis, Y. (2009). Mechanisms underlying the self- talk-performance relationship: the effects of motivational self-talk on self-confidence and anxiety. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 10, 186-192.

Johnson, J., Hrycaiko, D., Johnson, G. & Halas, J. (2004). Self-talk and female youth soccer performance. Sport Psychology, 18, 44–59.

Johnston-O'Connor, E. J., & Kirschenbaum, D. S. (1986). Something succeeds like success: Positive self- monitoring for unskilled golfers. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 10, 123-136.

Kazdin, A., E. (1982). Single-case research design. New York: Oxford Press.

Kolovelonis, A., Goudas, M., & Dermitzaki, I. (2011).The effects of instructional and motivational self-talk on students' motor task performance in physical education. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 12, 153-158.

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

Lepadatu, I. (2012). Use self-talking for learning progress. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences. Volume 33, 283-287.

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 & Exercise, 7 (4), 794-805.

Magill, R. (2004). Motor learning and control: Concepts and applications. New York: McGraw-Hill.

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

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

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

Nideffer, R.N. (1993). Attention control training. In R.N. Singer, M. Murphy, & L.K. Tennant (Eds.). Handbook of research on sport psychology (pp. 127-170). New York: Macmillan.

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

Reardon, J. P. (1993). Handling the self-talk of athletes. In K. P. & W. F. Straub (Eds.). Sport Psychology: An analysis of athlete behavior (3rd Ed.), (pp.203-211). Forest Glen, MI: Movement Publications.

Rushall, B. S., & Shewchuk, M. L. (1989). Effects of thought content instructions on swimming performance. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 29, 326-335.

Rushall, B. S., Hall, M., Roux, L., Sasseville, J., & Rushall, A.C. (1988). Effects of three types of thought content instructions on skiing performance. The Sport Psychologist, 2, 283-297.

Theodorakis, Y., Hatzigeorgiadis, A., & Chroni, S. (2008). Self-Talk: It works, but how? Development and preliminary validation of the Functions of Self-Talk Questionnaire. Measurement in Physical Education & Exercise Science, 12, 10-30.

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, 253–272.

Thiese, K. E., & Huddleston, S. (1999). The use of psychological skills by female collegiate swimmers. Journal of Sport Behaviour, 4, 602-611.

Thomas, P.R., & Fogarty, G. (1997). Psychological skills training in golf: The role of individual differences in cognitive preferences. The Sport Psychologist, 11 (1), 86- 106.

Thomas, R., & Fogarty, G. (1997). Psychological skills training in golf: The role of individual differences in cognitive preferences. The Sport Psychologist, 11 (1), 86-10.

Tsiggilis, N., Daroglou, G., Ardamerinos, N., Partemian, S. & Ioakimidis, P. (2003). The Effect of Self-Talk on Self-Efficacy and Performance in a Handball Throwing Test. Inquiries Sport & Physical Education, 1, 189 – 196.

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

Van Raalte, J. L., Cornelious, A. E., Brewer, B. W., & Hatten, S. (2000). The antecedents and con-sequences of self-talk in competitive tennis. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 22, 345-356.

Van Raalte, L., Brewer,W., Lewis, P., Linder, E., Wildman, G., & Kozimor, J. (1995). Cork! The effects of positive and negative self-talk on dart throwing performance. Journal of Sport Behaviour, 18, 50–57.

Ziegler, S. G. (1987). Effects of stimulus talk on the acquisition of groundstrokes by beginning tennis players. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 20, 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.

Zourbanos, N., Hatzigeorgiadis, A., Bardas, D., & Theodorakis, Y. (2013). The effects of a self-talk intervention on elementary students' motor task performance. Early Child Development and Care, 183:7, 924-930.


Copyright (c) 2014 Journal of Human Sport and Exercise

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.