I am an applied psychology student with a specific interest in the psychoanalytic approach to research, as well as philosophical issues such as altered states of consciousness. I play field hockey and am fascinated by the interaction between sport and psychology, especially mental skills training outcomes and coaching performance impacts. I plan to start a Masters this September in Trinity College Dublin in Psychoanalytic Studies with the hope of becoming a psychotherapist at some time in the future.
My research project investigated the area of self-talk and performance in field hockey, identifying what type of self-talk (motivational or instructional) may improve performance. Self-talk is essentially the way we talk to ourselves, either 'in our heads' (covertly) or 'out loud' (overtly). If you have ever played sport you probably have engaged in some sort of self-talk when doing various skills ["You can do this" (+) / "That was a silly mistake!" (-)]. Some sport research results have indicated the way we engage in self-talk can have a direct impact on the way we perform, either positively or negatively. My interest in this issue led me to choose this as the topic for my final year research study.
This study was designed to examine the effectiveness of self-talk types on male and female hockey players’ performances. Participants in the present study were amateur field hockey players aged between 18 and 40 years (N=32). In this experimental, between-groups, research study, the participants were briefed on self-talk and were given either an instructional or motivational self-talk script to practice with. They then carried out two tasks to measure their field hockey performance. The first task was a timed dribbling circuit (see image). The second task involved participants taking twenty penalty strokes, with a goalkeeper in the goal (see image). Results from my study indicated that engaging in motivational self-talk, over instructional (for both the males and female players), had a positive impact on their penalty stroke scoring success. My study also examined gender differences when employing self-talk for sport skills, an area that has been neglected in past research studies in field hockey.