The relevance of self-talk in football

Continuous mistakes in the soccer league, from Bentancur’s against Porto to Sassuolo- Napoli highlight that many players probably do not have a self-talk that gives them instructions on how to play at certain times and that supports their toughenss to continue to strive at the best. These are big mistakes that crack any tactical idea of a team and of whose importance I don’t think teams and coaches are fully aware and acting to change. Here are some scientific facts that demonstrate their importance in soccer.

Self-talk may affect sport performance. There is positive correlation between performance enhancement, positive self-talk (which boosts confidence and belief in one’s ability), and instructional self-talk (which diverts the focus of attention on to certain elements of a movement to increase attentional focus, thereby helping execution).

Daftari, Fauzee, and Akbari (2010) examined the perceived positive and negative effects of self-talk on football performance on Iranian elite-level football players (members of the national team). The participants of this study were 25 Iranian male professional footballers (mean age 27 years). The results demonstrated that the perceived effects of self-talk on professional footballers in real performance contexts can be categorized in two main categories: positive and negative.

Positive effects comprised more than 80% of the perceived effects of self-talk, while negative effects comprised less than 20% of the responses. The three most cited positive effects of self-talk were:

  • “It enhances coordination with teammates (15.6%)”
  • “It enhances focus and attention (12.5%)”
  • “It promotes decision making skills (11.4%)”

The results indicate that the perceived effects of self-talk among these participants were to:

  • Increase players’ coordination through mental rehearsal of critical situations
  • Enhance athletes’ concentration and sharpen the accuracy of their movements
  • Boost their ability to make correct decision with precision in the shortest time
(Source: Farina e Cei, 2019)

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