Dimitrova, S. (1970). Dependence of voluntary effort upon the magnitude of the goal and the way it is set in sportsmen. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 1, 29-33.

The ability to apply voluntary effort in getting over difficulties, which emerge in the course of a sports activity, plays a decisive role in the realization of high sport achievements. The dynamics of this involvement were studied.

Ss consisted of 30 students, 15 sportsmen, and 10 children (5-7 yr). Fatigue was induced by running 30, 50, and 80 m with a high knee lift and sideways lifting of 4 kg dumbbells with straight arms. These tasks involved high-speed, force, and mental work. Ss were instructed to work to failure after providing a quantitative description of the task goal.

The results of this study were many.

  1. The greater and more remote the goal set, the greater the voluntary effort.
  2. The consideration of terminating effort (the "stopping-wish") always appeared before goal-attainment no matter what the type or difficulty of the goal.
  3. Overcoming the sensation of fatigue involved extreme voluntary effort.
  4. The "stopping-wish" occurred about 80-85% of the way through the task and was independent of the goal distance.
  5. The volume of work was least when Ss had to perform to failure. This means that when failure was imminent, effort was reduced.
  6. The volume of work increased when public commitment to goal-achievement was demonstrated.
  7. The volume of work was most when public commitment to goals occurred and when concurrent feedback was provided as the task progressed (performance progress).
  8. Goal-setting increased work output by as much as 50% over conditions where no goals were set.
  9. Directing attention to fatigue feelings reduced performance output.
  10. The clearer and more detailed are goals, the greater was the tolerance of fatigue. This can be accommodated by saturating the goal image (Ss' potentialities for goal-achievement, attitude towards the goals) during preparation.

Implication. Effective goals should be detailed and associated with high self-efficacy for goal-achievement. The balance of these two factors broadens the scope of goals and retards the onset of debilitating fatigue.

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