Internal dialogue or self-talk is a mode often used by athletes to cope with the competition. The ability to focus on cue relevant for optimal execution of a technical movement can be increased by using self-talk or keywords. However, if not properly supported, internal dialogue can often result in statements of selfaccusation or devaluation which can negatively interfere with performance. This experimental study aims to assess whether the instructive and motivational functions of intentional self-talk can affect the cognitive and technical performance of young football goalkeepers. Twelve goalkeepers enrolled in the “under14/15” and “under16/17” categories were invited to perform two technical gestures on the soccer field in a counterbalanced manner: the goalkeeper save and the goal kick. Subsequently, they were asked to use either a motivational or instructive guided self-talk. The levels of effectiveness and precision were both measured before and after the use of self-talk, as well as the frequency and type of interfering thoughts. The results showed a significant improvement in the goal kick, but not in the goalkeeper save. No significant changes were found in the frequency of interfering thoughts. In conclusion, intentional self-talk may help to consolidate the execution of specific technical gestures and might become a useful intervention strategy for mental preparation of young goalkeepers.
Keywords: ; self-talk; pensieri interferenti; prestazioni; portieri; calcio