Positive and negative spontaneous self-talk and performance in gymnastics: The role of contextual, personal and situational factors

PLoS One. 2022 Mar 24;17(3):e0265809. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0265809. eCollection 2022.


The purpose of this study was to analyse whether contextual (perception of motivational climate and positive and negative spontaneous self-talk in sports), personal (positivity) and situational variables (positive and negative spontaneous self-talk employed in competition and precompetitive anxiety) predict performance in a competition of ensembles of rhythmic gymnastics. 258 female gymnasts between ages14 and 20 (M = 15.24, SD = 1.46) participated in the study, completing pre- and post-competition measures. The results of the path-analysis showed that both the task-involving climate and positivity predicted positive self-talk in sport. This predicted self-confidence which, in turn, positively predicted positive situational self-talk in competition. For its part, the perception of an ego-involving climate positively predicted the use of both negative and positive self-talk in sport. Negative self-talk in sports predicted negative situational self-talk in competition and somatic and cognitive anxiety. In turn, cognitive anxiety positively predicted negative situational self-talk. Finally, performance was positively predicted by positive situational self-talk and negatively by negative situational self-talk. These results explain the functioning of spontaneous self-talk at different levels of generality and its relationship with sports performance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Athletic Performance* / psychology
  • Female
  • Gymnastics*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Self Concept

Grants and funding

Financial support provided by the Andalusian Gymnastics Federation and the Pablo de Olavide University. Project reference: 2019/00183/001. Author who received the award: Luis Arturo Gómez-Landero. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.