The Guide to An Athlete’s Optimal Performance

By: Ramanjot Singh 19’

Caption: Multiple factors affect athletes performance and their self-talk tendencies.

Caption: Multiple factors affect athletes performance and their self-talk tendencies.

Self-talk is a significant component in athletic performance. Positive self-talk tends to improve performance, while negative self-talk can impede it. Although the concept of self-talk has been explored in the past, not much research focuses on identifying the psychological basis for the aforementioned trends. In order to provide better interventions for athletic performance, a group of researchers, led by Dr. Aristea Karamitrou, sought to understand athletes’ automatic self-talk through self-determination theory. The theory states that a person must experience the fulfillment of three basic psychological needs – autonomy, competence, and relatedness – in order to have a strong motivation.

The researchers surveyed 381 athletes using a questionnaire. The questionnaire measured self-talk in sport, basic psychological needs, and behavioral regulation in sport. The results revealed significant positive correlations between competence and autonomy for positive self-talk. The more competence and autonomy an athlete felt, the greater the proportion of positive self-talk.

It was determined that ensuring athletes’ sense of competence and autonomy maximizes their positive self-talk, improving their performance. The limitations of this study include the fact that although relationships can be correlated, no causal relationship can be established. Additionally, the information obtained was limited because it was the athletes’ self-report. Nevertheless, an ideal athletic environment should be one that maximizes the athlete to feel competent and autonomous.  



  1. Karamitrou. A. et. al., A self-determination approach to understanding of athletes’ automatic self-talk. Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology. (2017). doi:10.1037/spy0000104.
  2. Image retrieved from article

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