Background: One of the well-known cognitive strategies and techniques being used in a widespread manner by athletes both during the learning stages of a skill and within competitions is self-talk.
Objectives: In this research, we seek to examine the effects of overt and covert motivational self-talk on the physiological factor and the motor performance during a push-up exercise among children. Push-ups are one of the common tasks in schools with the universal standard used to measure the rate of endurance in the upper muscles of the trunk. The number of the correctly performed push-ups, regardless of the time, was each student’s score and validity and reliability for this test (93).
Methods: The sample in the study consisted of 60 male students (aged 10.25 ± 0.57) studying in Bonab, Iran, during the 2017 - 2018 academic year who voluntarily participated in the study and were randomly divided into three groups of 20 (overt MST, covert MST and C group). At first, a pre-test including the push-up task and heart rate was performed. Then, the groups performed the push-ups task according to the specific conditions defined for each group as a post-test. The paired-samples t-test was used to examine the progress of the groups in comparison to the pre-test and the one-way ANOVA procedure, which was applied to compare the groups in their pre-test and post-test phases.
Results: The one-way analysis of variance showed that the groups did not have a significant difference in pre-test (push-ups test: P = 0.751, heart rate: P = 0.909). However, in the post-test, including the push-ups and heart rate, both the overt motivational self-talk (19.65 ± 8.95 and 118.60 ± 12.13, respectively) and the covert motivational self-talk (19.50 ± 5.03 and 119.09 ± 11.88) had a significant difference compared to the control group (13.10 ± 5.47 and 101.49 ± 9.15) (P = 0.010, P = 0.012 in push-ups task and P = 0.0001, P = 0.0001 in heart rate).
Conclusions: The results of the current study showed that there was no significant difference between the overt and the covert groups. Therefore, it is recommended for sports teachers and coaches to use MST in their preferred mode during training their sports skills.