Athletes’ use of goal-directed self-talk: situational determinants and functions

Alexander T. Latinjak*, Marc Masó, Luis Calmeiro, Antonis Hatzigeorgiadis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
77 Downloads (Pure)


The purpose of this study was to explore situational determinants of goal-directed self-talk and to advance our understanding of athletes’ goal-directed self-talk functions. Participants were 97 young adult athletes (Mage = 20.36; SD = 3.38), competing at regional, national, and international level. In face-to-face meetings, participants were guided to describe situations in which they had used goal-directed self-talk. Subsequently, they were asked to report what their goal-directed self-talk in these situations had been. Both inductive and deductive data analyses were used to address the research questions. Regarding the situations, participants used goal-directed self-talk mainly in a variety of situations in training, and before, during and after competition. Furthermore, they also employed self-talk to better handle substitutions, injuries and interpersonal conflicts. Regarding self-talk functions, the initial coding scheme was expanded with additional categories to add depth and specificity to the model. Specifically, newly described self-talk functions relate to performance analyses, goal-orientation promotion, reasons underlying persistence, time perceptions and down-regulation of excessive confidence. Overall, the findings of this study suggest that athletes have different self-talk functions at their disposal, to manage a large variety of situations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)733-748
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
Issue number6
Early online date3 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Thoughts
  • Cognitive processes
  • Motivation
  • Athletic performance


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