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Scott R. Johnson, Andrew C. Ostrow, Frank M. Perna and Edward F. Etzel

The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of group and individual goal setting versus a control condition on bowling performance (BP), personal goals (PG), and perceived goal difficulty (PGD) across five weeks. Novice bowlers (N = 36) were randomly assigned to one of the three goal conditions. Three separate 3 × 5 (Goal Condition × Time: Weeks of Study) repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) revealed significant main effects for time on BP and PGD, and significant group by time interaction effects on BP and PG. The significant group × time interaction effects revealed that participants in the group goal setting condition increased both BP and PG relatively more than participants in the other goal setting conditions. Therefore, group goal setting may enhance performance in an individual sport by potentially increasing personal goal setting under difficult performance demands.

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Dennis G. Fairall and Wendy M. Rodgers

Previous literature on goal setting indicates that athlete participation in the goal-setting process can improve performance (cf. Kyllo & Landers, 1995). Much of the past research, however, has been criticized for using contrived environments where the motivation and involvement of the participants is questionable. This field experiment examined the effect of three methods of goal-setting (participative, assigned, and self-set) on various goal attributes. Track and field athletes (N = 67) were randomly assigned to one of the three experimental conditions. Results of between-groups ANOVAs showed a significant difference in the perception of the amount of participation athletes perceived in each of the three conditions, indicating the success of the manipulation. Further analyses, however, revealed no advantage to the participative and self-set conditions compared to the assigned condition in terms of goal attributes. The influence of goal-setting method on other goal attributes may be spurious or due to other contextual variables.

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Robert S. Weinberg, Kevin L. Burke and Allen Jackson

This study examined the various aspects of goal setting of youth tennis players and their coaches. To examine this multifaceted technique, an extensive goal-setting questionnaire was administered to 224 youth tennis players and 35 youth tennis coaches. Results indicated that improving overall performance, fun/enjoyment, and winning were the three most important goals for youth tennis players and that they most preferred setting moderately difficult goals. The most effective type of goals for players were physical conditioning, practice, and skill/technique, whereas the top reasons for setting goals were focusing attention, problem-solving, and increasing effort. Results also revealed numerous significant differences between coaches’ and players’ goal setting, with the coaches generally having a higher frequency of using different goal-setting strategies and finding them more effective. Results were discussed in terms of developmental differences between youth and college athletes, as well as individual difference variables such as gender and ability.

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B. Ann Boyce, Thomas Johnston, Valerie K. Wayda, Linda K. Bunker and John Eliot

Utilizing a two-stage random sampling technique, this study investigated the effect of three types of goal setting conditions (self-set, instructor-set, and “do your best” control) on tennis serving performance of college students (N = 156) in nine beginning tennis classes. A 3 × 2 × 5 (goal setting conditions × gender × trials) ANCOVA with repeated measures on the last factor and baseline performance as the covariate was computed. A significant interaction of goal setting conditions by trials was revealed (p < .003) with follow-up procedures favoring the instructor-set and self-set goal groups over the “do your best" group at the second and fourth trials. Further, at trial two, the instructor-set group was statistically superior to the self-set group. From this significant interaction, it appeared that the instructor-set and self-set goals enhanced students’ performance on the tennis serving task.

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L. Blaine Kyllo and Daniel M. Landers

Although the motivational technique of goal setting has consistently and reliably improved performance in industrial psychology research, this beneficial effect has not been clearly demonstrated in the sport domain. The many proposed explanations for this discrepancy have resulted in a controversy in the literature. However, scientists have overlooked the importance of statistical power. A meta-analytic review of the literature investigating the effects of goal setting on performance in sport and exercise could help to clarify the state of knowledge. The meta-analytic procedures described by Hedges and Olkin (1985) were used to statistically combine 36 studies identified as meeting inclusion criteria. Results indicate that, overall, setting goals improves sport by 0.34 of a standard deviation. Moderate, absolute, and combined short- and long-term goals were associated with the greatest effects. Additional moderator variables were identified, and the extent to which they alter the goal setting–performance relationship is discussed.

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Julie Senécal, Todd M. Loughead and Gordon A. Bloom

The purpose of the current study was to determine whether the implementation of a season-long team-building intervention program using team goal setting increased perceptions of cohesion. The participants were 86 female high school basketball players from 8 teams. The teams were randomly assigned to either an experimental team goal–setting or control condition. Each participant completed the Group Environment Questionnaire (GEQ; Carron, Brawley, & Widmeyer, 2002; Carron, Widmeyer, & Brawley, 1985), which assessed cohesion at both the beginning and end of the season. Overall, the results revealed a significant multivariate effect, Pillai’s trace F(12, 438) = 2.68, p = .002. Post hoc analyses showed that at the beginning of the season, athletes from both conditions did not differ in their perceptions of cohesion. However, at the end of the season, athletes in the team goal–setting condition held higher perceptions of cohesion than athletes in the control condition. Overall, the results indicated that team goal setting was an effective team-building tool for influencing cohesiveness in sport teams.

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Robert Weinberg, Damon Burton, David Yukelson and Dan Weigand

The purpose of the present investigation was to explore athletes’ responses regarding the frequency, effectiveness, and importance of different types of goals to enhance their performance. Subjects (N = 678) were collegiate athletes at three NCAA Division I schools from different regions of the United States. Each athlete completed an extensive questionnaire detailing his or her perceptions regarding the use and effectiveness of a number of different goal-setting strategies. Descriptive results revealed that virtually all athletes practiced some type of goal setting to help enhance performance and that they found their goals to be moderately to highly effective. Athletes also reported that improving overall performance, winning, and having fun were their three most important goals. Many significant differences were found when comparing groups. For example, although females generally set more performance goals than males, males set more outcome goals than females. Future directions for research are offered including studying developmental differences and barriers/facilitators to achieving goals.

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Barbara Ewens Cusimano

This study investigated change in verbal teacher behavior due to a planned intervention on inservice training in self-assessment of audiotaped lessons and goal setting. The subjects were 15 elementary physical education teachers. A pretest-posttest control group experimental design was utilized. Verbal teacher behavior was assessed by event and duration recording. Change in verbal teacher behavior was analyzed using multivariate analysis of variance. Following intervention there was a statistically significant interaction for positive specific feedback, F(7) = .0015, p < .05, and corrective specific feedback, F(7) = .0417, p < .05. No statistically significant difference was evident for acceptance of students’ skill performance ideas. It appears that positive specific feedback and corrective specific feedback can be modified through the use of a planned intervention package including self-assessment and goal-setting.

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Paul J. McCarthy, Marc V. Jones, Chris G. Harwood and Laura Davenport

Positive affect is linked to enhanced motivation, commitment, and performance among youth sport performers; yet, few psychological interventions have specifically attempted to enhance positive affect among these athletes. To address this circumstance, we implemented a single-subject multiple-baseline design to examine the effects of a goal-setting intervention on the positive and negative affective responses of three competitive youth athletes. Statistical analysis coupled with visual inspection criteria revealed a significant overall increase in positive affect for participants 1 and 2. A statistically significant increase in positive affect also emerged for participant 3, yet it was not possible to detect a significant experimental effect using visual inspection criteria. No statistically significant decreases in negative effect emerged for any of the three participants. These results show some support for the hypothesis that goal setting may enhance positive affect among junior multievent athletes.

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J. Ted Miller and Edward McAuley

Though improved performance as a result of goal setting has been reported in organizational psychology studies, little research in sport settings has demonstrated these effects. This study was designed to examine the effects of a goalsetting training program on basketball free-throw performance, perceptions of success, and self-efficacy. Eighteen undergraduate students were matched by free-throw shooting ability, then randomly assigned to either goal-training (GT) or no-goal-training (NT) groups for a period of 5 weeks. Although the GT group reported significantly higher perceptions of success and self-efficacy than did the NT group, no significant differences between groups were revealed for free-throw accuracy. Correlational data suggested a stronger relationship between self-efficacy and free-throw performance for the GT group than for the NT group. Discussed are factors that contribute to the discrepancies between results found in sport related investigations of goal setting and those obtained from studies conducted in business and laboratory environments.