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Barbara E. Pierce and Damon Burton

The purpose of this investigation was to assess how goal-setting styles influenced the effectiveness of a season-long goal-setting program for gymnastics. Participants were 25 female junior high school gymnasts, ages 12-14. Goalsetting styles were assessed clinically by team coaches and empirically by combined goal-orientation and gymnastics-competence scores. Goal-setting style results were generally consistent with model predictions. None of the failure-oriented (FO) gymnasts competed in one event for all meets. Performance and, to a lesser degree, cognitive findings for the three remaining goalsetting style groups supported model predictions. Performance-oriented (PO) gymnasts significantly improved performance over time, whereas success-oriented (SO) gymnasts experienced a slight performance decrement. MANOVA results also revealed goal-setting style differences on postseason program evaluations, with PO gymnasts having the most favorable ratings of goal-setting training (GST) program effectiveness.

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Robert Weinberg, Joanne Butt and Betsy Knight

The purpose of this investigation was to assess the perceptions of coaches regarding the process of goal setting using a qualitative methodology. Participants were eight male and six female high school coaches from Midwest United States representing both team and individual sports. Results revealed that coaches employed goal setting extensively for both individual and team goals in practice and competition. In addition, many interesting findings emerged including (a) coaches tended to set both long- and short-term goals; (b) coaches only inconsistently wrote down their goals; (c) goals were both dictated by coaches and set in collaboration with players; (d) the primary function of goals was to provide direction and focus; and (e) physical, psychological, and external barriers impeded goal attainment. These findings are discussed in relation to the current empirical/theoretical goal-setting literature and suggestions for best practice by sport psychology researchers are offered.

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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.

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Robert Weinberg, Dave Yukelson, Damon Burton and Daniel Weigand

The purpose of this investigation was to explore Olympic athletes’ perceptions concerning the frequency and effectiveness of goal setting strategies as well as goal preferences and barriers to achieving these goals. Participants were 185 male and 143 female Olympic athletes from a variety sports. Each athlete completed a questionnaire detailing their perceptions, use, and effectiveness of a number of different goal-setting strategies. Factor analysis revealed four similar factors for goal effectiveness and goal frequency and two distinct factors for goal barriers. Descriptive results revealed that all of the Olympic athletes practiced some type of goal setting to help enhance performance, and they found their goals to be highly effective. Athletes also reported that improving overall performance, winning, and having fun were the three most important goals. In addition, setting difficult goals that were somewhat above the level at which they perform was the most preferred level of goal difficulty. Future directions for research are offered including exploration of developmental differences and variations in coach versus athlete perceptions.

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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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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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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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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.

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B. Ann Boyce and Sarah M. Bingham

The present study investigated the effect of three goal-setting groups (self-set, assigned, and control) and three levels of self-efficacy (low, medium, and high) on bowling performance of college students (N = 288). The performance/retention trials were analyzed in a 3 × 2 × 10 (Goal Conditions × Self-Efficacy Levels × Trials) ANCOVA design, with repeated measures on the last factor and baseline performance as the covariate. Results of the data analysis revealed a significant main effect for self-efficacy (SE) levels for males and females. Individuals at high and medium SE levels performed significantly better than those at a low SE level. The nonsignificant main effect for goal groups was attributed to the spontaneous goal-setting behavior of the control group. Finally, there was a main effect for trials and planned comparisons indicated that as trials progressed female students improved. Evidence of a performance plateau was present for male students, as they showed marginal improvement across trials.