This study investigated the effect of goal proximity on skill acquisition and retention of a selected shooting task. Twelve classes (n=181) were randomly assigned to one of four conditions: (a) short-term goals, (b) a long-term goal, (c) short-term plus long-term goals, and (d) do-your-best goals. The pretest and six skill acquisition/retention trials were analyzed in a 4×2×6 (Goal Groups × Gender × Trials) MANCOVA design with repeated measures on the last factor and with the pretest as the covariate. Results of a multivariate F test revealed significant main effects for goal groups, gender, and trials. Post hoc tests indicated that the three specific goal-setting groups were superior to the do-your-best group. Males were statistically superior to females in the shooting task. The follow-up tests on trials revealed that as trials progressed, shooting performance improved significantly.
Craig A. Williams
Edwin A. Locke and Gary P. Latham
Studies of goal setting both in organizations and the laboratory have found that (a) specific, difficult goals lead to better performance than vague or easy goals; (b) short-term goals can facilitate the achievement of long-term goals; (c) goals affect performance by affecting effort, persistence, and direction of attention, and by motivating strategy development; (d) feedback regarding progress is necessary for goal setting to work; and (e) goals must be accepted if they are to affect performance. The implications of these findings for athletics are discussed. Ten hypotheses, based on previous research, are offered regarding the effects of goal setting in sports. In addition, suggestions are made regarding the following: setting goals for both practice and game situations; setting goals for different elements of athletic skill as well as for strength and stamina; using goals to increase self-confidence; using short-term goals to help attain long-term performance goals; improving performance by increasing task difficulty independently of goal difficulty; and obtaining goal acceptance and commitment in sports.
Bruce Howe and Rob Poole
The purpose of this study was to test the effects of goal proximity and achievement motivation on basketball shooting performance in a regular physical education class setting. Data were collected on 79 male Grade 10 students. One week prior to the beginning of a 4-week basketball unit, students were categorized as high achievers and low achievers based on their achievement score on the Howe Sport Behavior Assessment Scale. Within each achievement group, subjects were randomly assigned to either a weekly short-term goal group, a long-term goal group, or a short-term-plus-longterm goal group. Subjects completed the Speed Spot Shooting Test once every week to measure their performance in relation to their assigned goals. No significant differences among the variables were revealed. A postexperimental questionnaire revealed that a majority of students from all goal conditions were setting their own short-term goals. Results are discussed in terms of Bandura’s self-efficacy theory of motivation and the use of goals in motor skill tasks in physical education.
Robert Weinberg, Lawrence Bruya, and Allen Jackson
The purpose of the present investigation was twofold: to determine if subjects who set specific difficult goals perform significantly better than those who set "do your best" goals, and to examine the importance of goal proximity on the performance of the 3-minute sit-up test. Two experiments were conducted, and subjects (N = 96) in both were matched on ability and then randomly assigned to one of the following conditions: (a) short-term goals, (b) long-term goals, (c) short-term plus long-term goals, and (d) "do your best" goals. They were tested once a week for either 5 weeks (Experiment 1) or 3 weeks (Experiment 2). Subjects in the short-term goal condition had weekly sit-up goals, whereas those in the long-term goal condition had only an end goal Performance results from both experiments revealed no significant between-group difference. Questionnaire data indicated that all subjects tried hard, were committed to their goals, and were ego-involved. Manipulation checks revealed, however, that subjects from all conditions were setting their own goals in addition to their experimenter-set goal. Other possible explanations for the lack of differences are couched in the nature of the subject population and the nature of the task.
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.
Lynne Evans, Lew Hardy, and Scott Fleming
This action research study employed a multi-modal intervention with three athletes rehabilitating from injury. The efficacy of a number of intervention strategies emerged, including social support, goal setting, imagery, simulation training, and verbal persuasion. Emotional support was perceived by athletes as important when rehabilitation progress was slow, setbacks were experienced, or other life demands placed additional pressures on participants. Task support mainly took the form of goal setting. There was support for the use of long-term and short-term goals, and both process and performance goals. The effect of outcome expectancy, rehabilitation setbacks, financial concerns, isolation, social comparison, and the need for goal flexibility emerged as salient to athletes’ responses to, and rehabilitation from, injury. In the reentry phase of rehabilitation, confidence in the injured body part, and the ability to meet game demands was perceived by participants as important to successful return to competition.
Zeljka Vidic and Damon Burton
This study assessed the impact of an 8-week goal-setting program on the motivation, confidence and performance of collegiate women tennis players using a quasi-experimental pretest-posttest study design. This goal-setting program used the ‘roadmap’ concept; a unique systematic approach to goal-setting that focused on setting coordinated long-, intermediate-, and short-term goals. Participants consisted of six female Division I collegiate tennis players who completed seven instruments to assess intervention effectiveness. Over the 8-week intervention, all 6 players demonstrated improvements in motivation, confidence and performance measures, particularly on targeted variables. Qualitative results further strengthen support for intervention success, with all six athletes consistently reporting that goal-setting was beneficial in enhancing their motivation, confidence and performance.
Gershon Tenenbaum, Saadia Pinchas, Gabi Elbaz, Michael Bar-Eli, and Robert Weinberg
The purpose of the present investigation was to extend the literature on the relationship between goal specificity, goal proximity, and performance by using high school students and attempting to control for the effects of social comparison. Subjects (N=214) in Experiment 1 were randomly assigned to one of five goal-setting conditions: (a) short-term goals, (b) long-term goals, (c) short- plus long-term goals,(d) do-your-best goals, and (e) no goals. After a 3-week baseline period, subjects were tested once a week on the 3-minute sit-up over the course of the 10-week experimental period. Results indicated that the short- plus long-term group exhibited the greatest increase in performance although the short-term and long-term groups also displayed significant improvements. In Experiment 2, a short- plus long-term group was compared against a do-your-best group. Results again revealed a significant improvement in performance for the combination-goal group whereas the do-your-best group did not display any improvement.
Robert Weinberg, Lawrence Bruya, Janice Longino, and Allen Jackson
The purpose of this investigation was to test the effects of goal proximity and goal specificity on endurance performance of young children. Subjects were 130 boys and 125 girls from the fourth, fifth, and sixth grades. Children were matched on baseline performance of the 2-min sit-up test and then randomly assigned to one of the following goal setting conditions: (a) short-term goal improvement of 4% each test trial, (b) long-term goal of 20% improvement over the course of the 10-week study, (c) short-term plus long-term goal, and (d) do your best. Subjects practiced sit-ups in class every day with practice tests once a week and actual scored tests once every other week. No significant differences between goal-setting conditions were found on baseline performance and thus a 4 × 3 × 2 × 5 (Goal × Grade × Gender × Trials) ANOVA was conducted. Results produced significant gender and grade main effects, with boys and sixth graders exhibiting the best performance. More important, a significant goal-condition-by-trials interaction revealed there were no differences on Trials 1 and 2, but on Trials 3, 4, and 5 the specific goal groups performed significantly better than the do-your-best group. A postexperimental questionnaire revealed that children were highly committed to their goals and tried extremely hard to reach their goals. Results are discussed in terms of Locke's goal-setting theory as well as recent empirical goal-setting studies conducted in physical activity settings.