Botterill, C. (1977, September). Goal-setting and performance on an endurance task. Paper presented at the conference of the Canadian Association of Sports Sciences, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

Ss were boys (N = 75) ranging in ages from 11 to 14 years attending an ice-hockey camp. A pretest/posttest control group design was used. Ss were blocked (controlled) into groups of high, medium, or low levels of strength.

Ss were pretested on an endurance task of squeezing hand-grip dynamometer, he task load being 25% of maximum strength, under control group conditions (no concurrent or terminal feedback). Ss were led to believe that they were working against different resistances so as to avoid interpersonal competitions. A ceiling level of 12 minutes of performance that produced 720 contractions was established.

Results. A great range of scores were demonstrated but it was evident that psychological factors play an extremely important role in physical endurance testing.

  1. Simple goal-setting more than doubled the performance of some athletes.
  2. Goal-setting procedures have differential effects. The way goals are set is important.
  3. Difficult goals produced better performances.
  4. Explicit goals produced better performances.
  5. Difficult, explicit goals when combined with group-set goals was the best condition and indicates that these factors should be used together rather than to rely on only one feature in a procedure.
  6. The best performers spontaneously reset their goals during the performance. They would set an intermediate goal, achieve it, and then reset the next one, and continue on through the task in self-determined segments.

Implications. Performance goals for young athletes should be difficult, very explicit, and mixed with group-set goals. The group-set items are the framework against which the individuals establish their own aspirations.

The best structure for attempting the extended task was to develop a series of intermediate goals that would provide an indication that performance was progressing satisfactorily. The intermediate stages for self-evaluation of progress are best set by the athletes themselves. This study was the first sporting-environment justification for segmenting extended performances.

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