The Development and Activation of Achievement Goals in Tennis: I. Understanding the Underlying Factors

in The Sport Psychologist
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  • 1 Loughborough University, UK
  • | 2 University of Wales, Bangor
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The present study forms the first of two progressive investigations into the development and activation of achievement goals within young sports performers. The focal research question in this paper centers on identifying and understanding some of the underlying factors and processes responsible for the socialization of goal orientations and the activation of goal involvement states in a competition context. In-depth interviews were conducted on seventeen elite junior tennis players who represented a full cross-section of achievement goal profiles. Following inductive content analyses, four general dimensions emerged demonstrating how the development and activation of task and ego goals rested on a complex interaction of cognitive-developmental and social-environmental factors. Specific general dimensions included cognitive developmental skills and experiences, the motivational climate conveyed by significant others, the structural and social nature of the game, and the match context. The rich detail within these dimensions serves not only to extend our knowledge of achievement goals and achievement goal theory, but also to inform practitioners of key components to effective social-cognitive interventions.

Chris Harwood is with the Sport and Exercise Psychology Research Group in the Department of Physical Education. Sports Science, and Recreation Management at Loughborough University, Loughborough, Leicestershire, UK LE11 3TU. E-mail: <>. Austin Swain is with the Institute for the Psychology of Elite Performance, University of Wales Bangor, Bangor, Gwynedd LL57 2PX.

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