This study was designed to determine if winning a specific game in a tennis match would predict success in the match and if psychological momentum was influenced by ability levels or gender of the players. Subjects were 119 male and female players competing in 163 matches in three sanctioned tennis tournaments. Game-by-game and set results were recorded. Furthermore, interviews were conducted to ascertain players’ perceptions of momentum. Results revealed that winning any of the first eight games in the first and/or second set was a significant predictor of success in the tennis match. However, when only the results of more competitive matches (when sets extended to nine or more games) were examined, Games 8, 10, and 11 in the first set were significant predictors of winning the match, while only Game 4 of the second set resulted in an increased probability of match victory. No gender or ability differences were found. Based on these findings, it is suggested that investigators be cautious in inferring psychological momentum since these findings were dependent on the equity of competitors within a match, and psychological momentum seems to be a highly individual matter.
Peggy A. Richardson, William Adler and Douglas Hankes
Robert Weinberg, Thomas Stitcher and Peggy Richardson
The purpose of the present investigation was to determine the effects of a specific goal-setting program on physical performance over the course of a competitive athletic season. Subjects were 24 members of an NCAA Division III men’s lacrosse team who were matched on ability and playing position and then randomly assigned to either a goal-setting or do-your-best control group. The experimenter met with each athlete at the beginning of the season to provide goals, as well as during the season to reevaluate the goals, if necessary. Performance was measured on offensive assists, offensive ground balls, defensive ground balls, and defensive clears. Manipulation checks revealed that players accepted their goals, felt their goals were realistic, and tried hard to reach their goals. Although statistical tests indicated no significant performance differences, the magnitude, direction, and consistency of the differences in favor of the goal group offers some support for the effectiveness of specific goals across an athletic season.