The Relationship Between Self-talk and the Experience of Flow in Endurance Athletes

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Taylor, Rachel E.
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Middle Tennessee State University
Sport and exercise researchers have examined numerous factors that influence athletic performance. Amongst those factors are self-talk and flow, which are typically studied independently of each other. The current study examined and compared different types of self-talk as predictors of experiencing flow in endurance athletes. Based on prior research in both self-talk (e.g., Tod, Hardy, & Oliver, 2011) and flow (e.g., Weinberg, Miller, & Horn, 2012), it was hypothesized that motivational self-talk would be a better predictor for experiencing flow compared to instructional self-talk. Additionally, a negative correlation between negative self-talk and flow experiences was expected compared to positive self-talk. Forty-five NCAA runners from two Pennsylvania university teams served as participants, each competing in mid- to long-distance races. At the end of each race, self-talk and flow measures were completed. Results yielded strong support for both hypotheses: a significant, positive relationship between motivational self-talk and flow experiences and a significant, negative relationship between negative self-talk and flow experiences. These findings add to current literature in the realm of sport and exercise psychology. Flow is a positive experience and influential to athletic performance; thus, it is important to understand the type of self-talk that might inhibit or facilitate flow experiences.
Endurance Athletes, Flow, Self-talk