Journal of Athletic EnhancementISSN: 2324-9080

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"I Can Do It" Versus "We Can Do It": Effects of Different References of Motivational Self-Talk on Pre-Competition Anxiety

"I Can Do It" Versus "We Can Do It": Effects of Different References of Motivational Self-Talk on Pre-Competition Anxiety

The purpose of this study was to examine how modifying the referent of self-talk statements with respect to level of agency (i.e., individual versus group) may influence team members’ self-confidence and performance anxiety within a team-based novel dart-throwing task. In addition, this investigation sought to explore the way in which one’s relative performance within the team (i.e., superior performer versus inferior performer) may influence the effect of self-talk on performance anxiety. Collegiate undergraduate participants (N=93) were randomly assigned to three-person teams and then were allocated to one of three self-talk conditions, specifically (a) selftalk statements that focused upon one’s personal capabilities, (b) self-talk statements emphasizing the group’s capabilities, or (c) irrelevant self-talk. Based on their practice performance, students were ranked as a superior or inferior performer within a team. Only the top ranked and bottom ranked members of the triad were used in analysis. Results showed that inferior team members reported lower somatic anxiety when group-oriented self-talk was used, compared to when individual-oriented self-talk was used. For superior performers within a team, however, somatic anxiety was higher when they used group-oriented self-talk than when individualoriented self-talk was implemented. Regarding self-confidence, no significant effect of self-talk was found. These findings are considered with respect to their novel theoretical contribution to the anxiety literature in a group setting and their practical implications for decreasing pre-competition anxiety.

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