This investigation evaluated the impact of goal specificity and task complexity on basketball skill development. Two hypotheses were tested: (a) specific goals promote greater skill improvement than general goals; (b) goal setting effects are significantly greater for simple than for complex tasks. Students in a basketball class were matched on pretest skill and assigned to either specific or general goal setting groups. During each of 15 class periods of the 8-week course, students were assigned specific or general goals for each fundamental basketball skill in a 7-station circuit. Results partially confirmed both hypotheses. Profile analyses revealed that specific-goal subjects significantly outperformed, general-goal classmates on defensive footwork and ball handling drills whereas dribbling drills approached significance. Task complexity results suggested that subjects setting specific goals performed significantly better than those setting general goals on low but not on high complexity tasks, whereas results for moderate task complexity were mixed.
Damon Burton is with the Division of HPERD, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83843.