Managing the Voices: Athlete Self-talk as a Dialogic Process

Document Type


Publication Date

January 2010


In this paper I examine athletes’ retrospective (re)constructions of inner conversations, or self-talk, that they report experiencing during training and competition. I demonstrate how they employ an array of different voices to (re)create their partial selves in verbal and written accounts. In this regard, I suggest that one tool they use is internal polemic (Bakhtin, 1984), which I interpret as intrapersonal argumentative dialogue. Applying this literary notion to everyday stories shows how internal polemic works toward creating a dialogic self, or a self that incorporates conflicting voices and points of view. Through a detailed analysis of athletes’ oral and written narratives, I demonstrate how Bakhtin’s internal polemic not only adds to our current understanding of athletes’ self-talk, but offers a lens for investigating how athletes display, perform, and construct identities.