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Investigating Self-Talk Use Among Batswana Boxing Athletes: Implications For Tailored Skill-Targeted Self-Talk Interventions

Tlhabano-David, K (2023) Investigating Self-Talk Use Among Batswana Boxing Athletes: Implications For Tailored Skill-Targeted Self-Talk Interventions. Doctoral thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

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Self-talk intervention studies in sport abound with research mainly conducted among populations in the west, on non-competitive settings, targeting non-combat sport. Generally, intervention studies have not demonstrated the sequential use of mixed methods to conduct self-talk needs assessment prior to planning and implementation of self-talk strategies. Consequently, the thesis aimed to use mixed methods to explore self-talk use among Batswana boxers and ultimately test a tailored skill targeted self-talk intervention among the participating boxers. The thesis comprised five studies: a systematic review of existing self-talk intervention studies, exploring self-talk use among Batswana boxers using retrospective interviews, exploring the participants self-talk use in real-time, investing the boxers’ perceived coaching behaviour influence, and investigating the effectiveness of a tailored skill targeted self-talk intervention among participating Batswana boxers. Study one was a systematic review of trends in specified intervention design, context, and implementation components. Studies Two to Five were sequentially conducted in Botswana from 2017 – 2019. Study one aimed to review trends in the self-talk intervention and performance literature and identify interactions between intervention design, context, and implementation. The study scrutinised design (self-talk type, task novelty, study design, and task goal targeted), context (type of sport, geographical location, and intervention setting), and implementation (self-talk practice, intervention duration, testing, and manipulation check) trends. Seventy-five intervention studies were included following set criteria. Overall, the study identified trends within design, context, and implementation that indicate variables that have been studied extensively and those that lag. As well, the study noted that scrutiny of intervention complexities is a research area needing attention. Study two aimed to explore Batswana boxing athletes’ self-talk awareness, beliefs and uses with intent to inform a tailored skill-targeted self-talk intervention. Semi-structured interviews were used to collect data from 17 Batswana boxers (14 males and 3 females) recruited from boxing clubs in Gaborone, Botswana, through gatekeepers. Inclusion criteria entailed: (1) at least 12 months boxing experience, (2) at least one competitive experience, (3) being Motswana, and (4) playing the sport in Botswana. Seventeen data sets were analysed using the thematic analysis approach (Clarke & Braun, 2013). Study credibility was assessed using eight criteria for excellent qualitative research (Tracy, 2010). The analysis derived primary and secondary themes relating to self-talk utilisation, awareness, belief, context, content, influences, and uses. Batswana boxing athletes reported using self-talk, with several indicating self-talk unawareness prior to the interview. The boxers reported belief in their self-talk and using self-talk across training and competition settings. The study also identified factors influential to boxers’ self-talk use, as well as distinct structure form and person terms characteristics. Study three aimed to explore Batswana boxers’ self-talk use in real time (during training) and compare findings with retrospective recall findings of study two. The study findings would validate study two findings and inform a tailored, skill-targeted self-talk intervention. The (TA) method was used to capture athletes’ self-talk during two noncontact training activities, shadow boxing and punch bag. Twelve Batswana boxers recruited in boxing clubs around Gaborone took part in the study (n = 12). Participation in study two was necessary for inclusion in the current study. The study used the realist approach. Clarke and Braun’s (2013) thematic analysis phases were used to analyse the data sets. Credibility was assessed using eight criteria for excellent qualitative research (Tracy, 2010). Findings revealed that participating boxers used self-talk that served instructional and motivational purposes, particularly the former. The boxers’ self-talk was characterised in distinct structure form and person terms. The findings were like study two results in terms of self-talk function, self-talk structure, and person terms used. Differences were noted in self-talk prevalence, with real time self-talk recording remarkably more self-talk than retrospective recall reports. Study four sought to explore perceived coaching behaviour influence on participating boxers self-talk during competition. First, the study attempted to identify specific coaching behaviours perceived as influential and then assess ways such behaviour is perceived to be influential. Eleven boxers participated in the study which utilised video assisted interviews following a local tournament. Individual participants and the researcher watched their bout concurrently as they listened to an audio recording of the coach during the same bout. The study did not find enough data to support study two findings regarding perceived coaching behaviour on boxers’ self-talk. The study however pointed to perceived coaching behaviour influence in decision making during competition. Coaching instructions was the behaviour reported to be influential, and the influence was noted even when coaches’ instructions were in audible. The primary aim of study five was to investigate the effectiveness of a tailored skill-targeted self-talk intervention among skilled and competitive Batswana boxing athletes in training and competition. To achieve the primary aim the study had three objectives: (1) To examine the effectiveness of a tailored skill-targeted self-talk intervention on individual boxing athletes’ straight, uppercut, and hook punches during sparring and competition, (2) To investigate the effectiveness of a tailored skill-targeted self-talk intervention on individual boxing athletes’ guards use during sparring and competition, and (3) To highlight perceived usefulness of a tailored skill-targeted self-talk intervention on individual athletes’ holistic performance during competition. Six boxing athletes took part in the intervention study following participation in a self-talk needs analysis process. The study found improvements in some punch accuracy for most boxers, and no performance hindrance to boxers’ offense. The study also found improvements in guards use (defense), and no hindrance to defense where there was no recorded improvement. Also, non-targeted defense moved were not hampered in the process. The boxers achieved personal goals – winning National Championship medals. The boxers socially validated the usefulness of the intervention. The findings provide initial evidence for the effectiveness of a tailored and skill targeted self-talk intervention, in the sport of boxing and among Batswana athletes. The thesis demonstrated novelty in several ways, for instance: (1) investigated self-talk in a population (Batswana) not studied before; (2) conducted self-talk research (intervention) in a sport not investigated before; (3) sequentially used different approaches to inform a tailored skill-targeted self-talk intervention; and (4) demonstrated participants’ engagement in the different empirical studies. The thesis has added to current knowledge by demonstrating: (1) the practicality of the framework for the study of self-talk in sport (Hardy et al., 2009) in the boxing context, and (2) the effectiveness of self-talk use in both training and competition context among Batswana boxers.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Batswana; think aloud; TA; self-talk
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC1200 Sports Medicine
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure > GV561 Sports
Divisions: Sport & Exercise Sciences
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 13 Mar 2023 14:39
Last Modified: 13 Mar 2023 14:42
DOI or Identification number: 10.24377/LJMU.t.00019016
Supervisors: Tod, D, Eubank, M and Knowles, Z
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/19016

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