The Dynamics of Goal Setting Within a Multi-Events Competition
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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The process of setting and achieving goals has been used by athletes as a motivational tool and a source of confidence (Burton & Weiss, 2008), making it an important psychological factor to consider when studying sport performance. The purpose of this study was to investigate the dynamic nature of goal setting within a multi-event competition. The aim was to attempt to identify the processes used when setting and revising goals, as well as the reasons behind these decisions, to help provide athletes and coaches with a greater understanding of how goal setting processes can be more effective. An international heptathlete was selected for this investigation, which took the form of a case study. This approach required the participant to complete a goal setting diary for each of her competitions, with the analysis of these diaries forming the basis for a follow-up interview. An inductive content analysis was conducted on the interview transcript to produce key themes relating to the participant’s goal setting and its dynamic nature. Results showed that the participant set a combination of goals, but outcome and performance goals in particular elicited pressure, most notably when their achievement was in doubt. Ambiguous process goals also had this effect. These goals were revised during the competition, primarily based on the performance of the other competitors and the participant’s perceived physical state. The consequence of this process may be that motivation was supported and confidence protected since the revised goals permitted a sense of achievement. This highlighted that the goal setting process was a dynamic one, with athletes changing their goals during competition. Therefore, coaches should reinforce appropriate goals and attempt to establish more effective process goals with their athletes, based on technique and self-regulation.
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