The Use of Self Talk by Injured Athletes

Positive self talk had the tendency to motivate and to lead to the patient’s adhering to the rehabilitation programmes. The perceptions of recovery that stemmed from this led to decreased depression and more positive self talk. However, the complicated nature of athletes’ reaction to injury meant that some also used negative self talk, and this self talk affected their spirits and motivation negatively as well. The inter-relatedness of all these aspects and the similarities and differences of the findings of this study to the research that has gone before is explored in detail.
Self talk is a strategy that has been employed by persons who, during difficult circumstances, have found it necessary to find a means of coping with stress. It has been defined by Hackfort and Schwenkmezger (1993) as "a dialogue in which the individual interprets feelings of perception, regulates and changes evaluations and convictions, and gives him/herself instructions and reinforcement." As is implied by the term, the activity engages anyone who uses self talk in a dialogue with him- or herself about things that relate to a problematic situation at hand. It is a type of verbal persuasion, which has been indicated by Evans, Hardy, and Fleming (2000) as a much used response to stress.

Self talk can occur in negative or positive form, according to the type of personality or the level of stress being experienced by its user. It is also dependent on the user’s perception of the situation causing the stress (Evans, Mitchell &amp. Jones, 2005). Personality and the availability of support systems have an effect on a person’s perception of a situation, and therefore may also have a bearing on the self talk used in a situation (Wiese-Bjornstal, Smith, Shaffer and Morrey’s, 1998).
Injuries can prove very stressful, and are especially so to professional athletes, as their ability to earn depends heavily on their physical health. These injuries which cause overwhelming stress can also cause a player to develop lowered confidence and motivation, as they result in pain, immobility, and contribute to time spent off the field (Bianco, Malo and Orlick, 1999). These psychological and emotional responses to injury also play a part in determining the outcome of rehabilitation (Myers, Peyton and Jensen, 2004), and these factors often influence the direction of self talk.
The psychological, behavioural, and emotional responses to sport injury and the process of rehabilitation are further related to demographic and social responses. They have an influence on rehabilitation adherence, which is the ability of the athlete to follow the guidelines of his (or her) rehabilitation programme (Brewer, et al., 2003). It has been shown by Brewer, et al., that consistent with contemporary psychological models of sport-injury rehabilitation, numerous personal and situational factors (e.g., self-motivation, social support, mood disturbance) have been linked to sport-injury rehabilitation adherence. The ability of athletes to adhere to their treatment is often linked to feelings, thoughts, emotions, pressures, and support available during the period of therapy (Gould, et al., 2000). These psychological, emotional, physical, and social aspects of rehabilitation have a bearing on self talk (Evans, Hardy, and Fleming, 2000), and the connections