Konttinen, N. (2009). Goal orientation and persistence in youth hockey. A paper presented at the 14th Annual Congress of the European College of Sport Science, Oslo, Norway, June 24-27.

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"Achievement Goal Theory (Nicholls, 1984) states that there are two dispositional perspectives, which determine how subjective success is evaluated. Task-orientation refers to self-referenced perception of ability, whereas ego-orientation means that a personís focal concern is mainly towards demonstrating superior competence based upon normative comparisons. It has been suggested that a task-orientation more often than the ego-orientation protects the athlete from disappointments and a lack of motivation (Duda, 1989). Emphasis on task-orientation can be expected to lead to a stronger persistence when an athleteís performance is exceeded by others. The purpose of the present study was to gain additional insights into this issue focusing on the relationship between goal-orientation and involvement in organized youth sports."

A longitudinal follow-up design was applied to Finnish junior ice-hockey players (N = 2,813). A valid racing license of the Finnish Ice Hockey Association was used as the indicator of persistence 3.5 years after the initial survey questionnaire, when the Ss ranged in age between 14 and 15 years. Goal-orientation was examined with the Finnish version of the Perception of Success Questionnaire (POSQ). The dependence of persistence on goal-orientation (task and ego) and perceived ability in ice hockey (low, intermediate, high) were studied.

Ss who scored high on task-orientation were more likely to continue their participation in ice hockey than Ss who scored low on task-orientation. High ego-orientation combined with high perceived ability was also associated with sustained involvement in ice hockey, whereas high ego-orientation combined with low perceived ability appeared to be detrimental to continuing involvement.

Implication. Goal-orientation is related to sustained ice-hockey participation over several years. An emphasis on task-orientation leads to a greater involvement. The likelihood of withdrawal from ice hockey increased if a player whose goal was to win (high ego-orientation) experienced little success (low perceived competence).

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