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The popularity of basketball has grown over the years with the
growing fan base increasing at a high magnitude each year. This is widely due
to the splendid development of the athletes and the gifted physical build that
they now hold. Opposed to being physically gifted and developed, athletes and
coaches are looking for different ways to create advantages to produce positive
outcomes. Perfecting their craft and being able to play at the highest level is
goal sought out by most, if not all athletes. With technology also booming in
today’s world, athletes are able to use it to increase their durability, jump
shot, passing accuracy, etc. Since sports psychology was introduced, athletes
are now focusing on improving mentally by using psychological skills to also
give them a competitive edge. Previous research shows that self-talk, imagery,
concentration, goal-setting, and relaxation training have all been linked to
increased performance in athletes.

            There are
many intervention techniques being used today to not only increase performance
but as well develop the personal growth of athletes. Previous research
conducted on Olympic athlete’s show that the athletes who were most successful
in their sport used cognitive strategies in comparison to athletes who didn’t
use cognitive strategies as frequently or at all (Gould, Ekund, & Jackson,
1993; Orlick & Partington, 1988).

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Self-talk is one of the major
cognitive strategies used in order to activate the mental processes of an
athlete which modifies their existing thought and affect patterns. This
strategy has been implemented by both coaches and athletes, it describes what the
individual says to themselves in order to think more solidly and also to direct
both their behaviors and actions (Zinsser, Bunker, & Williams, 1998).
According to Chroni, 1997, “self-talk can be manifested in verbal or non-verbal
ways, in the form of a word, a though, a smile, a frown, etc.” Many studies
have been conducted and they show that self-talk can be valuable to the
performance of an athlete, it can be employed to increase confidence, it helps
prepare athletes for their upcoming performances, and builds motivation (Van
Raalte, Brewer, Rivera, & Petitpas, 1994; Weinberg, Grove, & Jackson,
1992). The use of positive self-statements prompts desired actions, controls
arousal levels, attention, anxiety, and also it increases performance and plays
a significant role in the rehabilitation process (Hardy, Jones, & Gould,
1996). Contrary to positive self-talk, negative self-talk hinders performance
by using inappropriate and anxiety-producing statements.

            Recent
sport studies on self-reported self-talk have found shifty findings or mixed
results. According to TeamRankings.com no NCAA D1 team shot over 76.4% in the
2016-2017 season. The top 10 greatest free throw shooters all shot over 88%
according to FoxSports.com. Coaches and both athletes are looking for ways to
increase free throw percentages. The focus of this study will be to replicate
previous studies eyeing the effect of brief positive self-talk and imagery
prior to shooting has on performance. The goal is to increase free throw
shooting percentage by examining two different types of self-talk (“relax” and
“fast”). I predict that athletes using the word “relax” will increase their
free throw shooting performance compared to athletes using the word “fast”, and
also the athletes who did not use self-talk.

Literature review

Self-Talk (Positive)

            Positive self-talk has been
detrimental in increasing confidence, motivation, and also overall performance.
A study was done by Kimiyaee Asadi, Jadidian, and Aslani (2016) in which they
aimed to identify the effects of relaxation, positive self-talk, and a
combination of relaxation and positive self-talk on premenstrual syndrome. A random
sample of 80 women all residing from Hamadan with PMS disorder were selected for
this study. Overall, results showed that PMS can be reduced through using psychological
strategies such as relaxation and positive self-talk.  This study gives great insight onto the effectiveness
of positive self-talk being that it is the focal point of my study.

 Another study was done by Dagrou E, Gauvin L, and
 Halliwell W

(1992)  in which they
deemed to investigate the influence of positive self-talk on motor learning.
The participants for this study were 46 male and female college students from
Ivory Coast in which they were assigned to two experimental groups and a control
group. Subjects from the first experimental group (VP) were asked to repeat
aloud positive verbalizations in between trials while the other group (VN)
repeated negative verbalizations. Results showed that performance of the VP
group increased significantly compared to the other two groups. This study is
great for my research because these findings give more validation to the use of
positive self-talk and how effective it can be.

Self-Talk (Negative)

            Negative
self-talk has been found to hinder or decrease performance by the use of inappropriate
statements. In a study done by Van Raalte, J. L., Cornelius, A. E., Brewer, B.
W. and Hatten, S. J. (2000), they examined the antecedents and consequences of
self-talk during tennis performances. The participants for this study were
eighteen adult tennis players from the United States Tennis Association.
Results showed that for all players, match circumstances predicted the use of
negative self-talk and performance decreased compared to those who used
positive self-talk. This study provides insight on how negative self-talk with
decrease performance and this correlates with my hypothesis saying that
positive self-talk will increase free throw shooting performance (“relax”)
while negative self-talk will decrease it (“fast”).

Ryan A, David Scott and Michael P.
MacDougall (2007) of the University of Brunswick conducted a study where they examined
the effectiveness of three different self-talk interventions on endurance
performance. Participants for this study included nine cyclists who performed a
20-minute cycling ergometer workout two times per week for five weeks. Participants
were assigned to each of the three groups: self-regulated positive self-talk,
assisted positive self-talk, and assisted negative self-talk. Results for this
study suggested that performance in all groups increased with assisted positive
self-talk having the highest increase and assisted negative self-talk having
the lowest increase. For my study, once again, this article validates that
negative self-talk can be harmful to performance and also helps prove that my
hypothesis that positive self-talk will increase performance.

According to sports psychologists for
basketball, negative self-talk can induce physical as well as mental stress,
harming your cardiovascular health, gut health, and immune system. David E.
Conroy and Jonathan N. Metzler (2004) also conducted a study on negative
self-talk where they investigated the relationship between Structure Analysis
of Social Behavior-defined patterns of state-specific self-talk (while failing,
while succeeding, wished for, and feared) and three forms of situation-specific
trait performance anxiety: fear of failure (FF), fear of success (FS), and
sport anxiety (SA). What they found was that negative self-talk was associated
with fear of failure and sports anxiety. With my study, this provides knowledgeable
background about negative self-talk while also giving different associations
that will be beneficial my negative self-talk control group.

Self-Talk Within Sports

            As stated above, “self-talk is
one of the major cognitive strategies used in order to activate the mental
processes of an athlete which modifies their existing thought and affect patterns.”
Both positive and negative self-talk play a defining role in athletes
performance, it either help increase or decrease performance.

Antonis Hatzigeorgiadis, Nikos
Zourbanos, Evangelos Galanis, and Yiannis Theodorakis conducted a meta-analysis
in which they reviewed the effectiveness of self-talk intervention on task
performance in sports and they also examined the possible factors that may
moderate the effectiveness of self-talk. There was a total of 32 studies that
completed the final pool of 62 effect sizes. The authors found that “self-talk
interventions were more effective for tasks involving relatively fine, compared
with relatively gross, motor demands, and for novel, compared with
well-learned, tasks. Instructional self-talk was more effective for fine tasks
than was motivational self-talk; moreover, instructional self-talk was more
effective for fine tasks rather than gross tasks. Also, interventions including
self-talk training were more effective than those not including self-talk
training (Yiannis Theodorakis, 2011).” This article gives an idea of the
effects of self-talk as a whole. It compares motivational and instructional self-talk
while showing their effectiveness. In my study I am using instructional
self-talk so the method used in this study would be a great replication for my
study.

Raalte, Judi Li Van; Brewer,
Britton W; Lewis, Brian P; Linder, Darwyn E; Wildman, Gregg; et al (1995) all
conducted a study on the effectiveness of positive and negative self-talk on
dart-throwing performance. For this study there were 60 participants and they
were all assigned to either a positive self-talk group, negative self-talk
group, or a control group. Results from this concluded that the dart throwers
who used positive self-talk performed significantly better than those who use
negative self-talk. While this study shows once again how effective positive self-talk
is in sport, it shows the similarities of throwing a dart and shooting a free
throw. They both require similar motor skills.

Self-talk in sports is considered
to be one of the most commonly used psychological strategies to develop a
better mental state. J.L. Van Raalte, B.W. Brewer, P.M. Rivera, and A.J.
Petitpas (1994) did a study where they examined self-talk in sports performance
(tennis). Participants for this study were twenty-four junior tennis players
who were observed during tournament matches. Observable gestures, self-talk,
and match scores were all recorded. Results suggested that negative self-talk
was associated with losing and that players who reported believing in the
utility of self-talk won more points than players who did not. This study clarifies
previous evidence that not only in basketball but in different sports (tennis) negative
self-talk decreases performance.

 Taking control of your thoughts and trigger
words can create a better performance climate in your mind. A study done by Antonis
Hatzigeorgiadis, Nikos Zourbanos, Sofia Mpoumpaki, and YannisTheodorakis (2009)
all examined the effects of motivational (positive) self-talk on anxiety, task
performance, and self-confidence in young athletes. As for participants, there
were 72 tennis players. What the authors of this article found was that
self-talk can increase self-confidence while also decreasing cognitive anxiety.
Players usually miss free throws due to lack of confidence and this study gives
different self-talk statements that increase confidence that’ll be beneficial
in my study.

While self-talk has been found to
increase self-confidence, performance, etc. It has also been linked to increasing
self-efficacy. A was study conducted by Hatzigeorgiadis, A., Zourbanos, N.,
Goltsios, C., and Theodorakis, Y (2008) which examined the effectiveness of
self-talk on performance and self-efficacy. Participants for this study included
46 young tennis players with a mean age of 13.6. Results from this study
indicated that self-talk may be viable to increased self-efficacy which led to
enhanced performance. This study correlates with my current study by showing
the effectiveness of self-talk on self-efficacy. Self-efficacy plays a huge
part of shooting free throws.

 

Self-Talk in
Basketball

Previous sport studies have been
done which focused on monitoring players and observing the effects that self-talk,
relaxation, and goal setting had on free throw shooting. Results from his study
showed some improvements in free throw shooting. As we know self-talk increases
confidence and confidence is key when it comes to basketball. A study conducted
by Yannis Theodorakis, Stiliani Chroni, Kostas Laparidis, Vagelis Bebetsos, and
 Irini Douma (2001) examined the two
types of self-talk and the effect it had on a shooting task in basketball.
There were 60 physical education and sports science students. They were put
into one control group and two treatment groups which used self-talk. Results from
this study suggests that students who used the word “relax” performance
improved significantly compared to the other two groups. Furthermore saying
that with the self-talk is effective for performance when the content is appropriate
for the task at hand. This study gives cue words that may be valuable for my
study while also giving me a method that I could replicate.

Basketball players are looking to
gain a competitive edge in the sport and self-talk could be one of the ways to
do so. A study done by Gail Kendall, Dennis Hrycaiko, and Garry L. Martin, and
Tom Kendall (1990) looked to examine the effects of imagery rehearsal, self-talk
package, and relaxation on basketball performance. The participants for this
study included four women college basketball players. The results from this
study concluded that the interventions increased performance/basketball skills during
games. This study is very similar to my study and it provides valuable insight
about self-talk interventions that are useful and have validation. These
findings once again show that self-talk when paired with other psychological
interventions have the same results. Performance is increased.

It was hypothesized that including positive
self-talk in the free throw routine would increase free throw percentage.  Boroujeni, Shahzad Tahmasebi ,Shahbazi, and Mehdi
(2011) conducted a research study in which they aimed to investigate various
strategies of both motivational and instructional self-talk the effectiveness
it had on shot performance and passing skills. The participants for this study
were randomly selected 72 out of 187 physical education students. Results for
this study concluded that motivational self-talk was more effective for skills
based on speed and instructional self-talk is more beneficial for skills that
require timing and precision. Shot accuracy was increased using instructional
self-talk. Similar to my hypothesis this study provides results that supports
it.

Studies that were conducted in
sports psychology for basketball show that “athletes with positive expectations
tend to outperform those with negative expectations. Positive results occur
because favorable expectations for your own performance lead you to engage in
behaviors which tend to lead to success (Delice Coffey, 2017).” A study done by
Harbalis, Thomas; Hatzigeorgiadis, Antonis; and Theodorakis, Yannis (2008) examined
the effectiveness of a self-talk intervention program on the performance of
wheelchair basketball drills. The participants for this study were 22
wheelchair athletes from different basketball clubs. The aim of the study was
to increase passing and dribbling by using positive self-talk. The authors for
this study found that the use of self-talk and in the form of instructional can
be effective for the performance of wheelchair basketball players. The group
who used self-talk improved in dribbling and passing skills significantly more
than the control group who didn’t use self-talk. Even in with a disability, positive
self-talk increases performance.

Improving your basketball mental
skills will have a direct correlation with you having positive expectations for
yourself. In order to build your confidence you must erase the negative
thoughts and start to think positively. Chroni, S., Perkos, S., &
Theodorakis, Y. (2007) conducted a study in which they looked to explore the
basketball players preference of self-talk and if they felt that it was helpful
or not while also addressing their preference of instructional vs. motivational
self-talk during skill execution. The participants for this study were thirty-eight
novice basketball players. They each used motivational and instructional
self-talk cues during a practice session where they executed passing,
dribbling, and shooting skill test. The results for this study concluded that
athletes preferred motivation self-talk when they were dribbling or shooting.
When it came to passing they didn’t have a favorite form of self-talk.
Instructional self-talk was found to be beneficial when passing while
motivational self-talk was beneficial when it came to dribbling and shooting.
The results from this study give intuition of what self-talk athletes prefer
and also which type of self-talk is most effective for different basketball
skills.

Conclusion

Recent sport studies on
self-reported self-talk have found shifty findings or mixed results. According
to TeamRankings.com no NCAA D1 team shot over 76.4% in the 2016-2017 season.
The top 10 greatest free throw shooters all shot over 88% according to
FoxSports.com. Coaches and both athletes are looking for ways to increase free
throw percentages. The focus of this study will be to replicate previous
studies eyeing the effect of brief positive self-talk and imagery prior to
shooting has on performance. The goal is to increase free throw shooting
percentage by examining two different types of self-talk (“relax” and “fast”).
I predict that athletes using the word “relax” will increase their free throw
shooting performance compared to athletes using the word “fast”, and also the
athletes who did not use self-talk. Limitations for this study might include
working with a small sample of the Men’s and Women’s basketball population at
Barry University and manipulation check for the use of self-talk by the participants
is not conducted.

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