Goal Setting in Sport: Clarifying Recent Anomalies

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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Recent empirical evidence (Weinberg, Bruya, & Jackson, 1985) has brought into question whether the positive beneficial effects of goal setting found in organizational settings are directly generalizable to the domain of sport. This investigation attempted to determine whether increased control over powerful extraneous variables influencing motivation would enable goal-setting effects to be observed in sport settings, and second, it examined the utility of either flexible subject-set subgoals or rigid experimenter subgoals as adjuncts to long-term goals. Forty-three males and 11 females were randomly assigned by class to one of four experimental conditions. Following baseline trial under do best instructions, subjects performed three trials on an endurance task under their assigned experimental conditions. A 4 × 3 (Goal Group × Trials) ANCOVA with repeated measures on the last factor and baseline performance as the covariate indicated that groups holding subgoals performed significantly better than those with do best instructions, whereas performance for those with only long-term goals approached significance. These findings clearly demonstrate a need to further understand the process of goal setting if it is to be successfully applied as an intervention technique to enhance motivation and sport performance.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Howard K. Hall, Institute for Research on Human Development, University of Illinois, 51 Gerty Dr., Champaign, IL 61820.

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