Self-talk enhances physical performance. Nothing is known however about the way that a subtle grammatical difference in self-talk, using first or second person pronouns, may effect performance. As second person self-talk supports self-regulation in non-exercise populations, we hypothesized that 10 km cycling time-trial performance would be superior following second versus first person self-talk. Using a randomized, counterbalanced, crossover design, sixteen physically active males (Mage = 21.99, SD = 3.04 years) completed a familiarization visit followed by a 10 km time-trial during two separate experimental visits using first and second person self-talk. A paired t-test revealed that second person self-talk generated significantly faster time-trial performance than first person self-talk (p = .014). This was reflected in a significantly greater power output throughout the time-trial when using second person self-talk (p = .03), despite RPE remaining similar between conditions (p = .75). This is the first evidence that strategically using grammatical pronouns when implementing self-talk can influence physical performance providing practitioners with a new aspect to consider when developing interventions. We discussed findings in the context of a self-distancing phenomenon induced by the use second person pronouns.
Keywords: RPE; Self-talk; grammatical pronouns; power output; psychological strategy; time-trial.