Define Goals:
Attaining specific standard of proficiency on a task, usually with a specified time limit (Locke 1981)

Goal Setting Efficacy

A meta-analysis on 36 studies demonstrate goal setting in sports and exercise can improve performance (Kyllo & Landers 1995)

Females who set goals or who were assigned goals by their instructor made greater strength gains compared to a control group (Boyce 1994).

Setting all 3 types of goals improves performance (Filby 1999)

Behavioral goals improve performance quicker than outcome goals (Kingston & Hardy 1997)

Over-emphasis of outcome goals may create anxiety and reduce performance (Filby 1999)

outcome goals are less controllable than behavioral goals

Important Components to Goal Setting

Make goals specific and measurable

Setting short and long term goals

Daily training goals were one variable that distinguished successful Olympians from less successful ones (Orlick & Partington 1988)

Allowing individuals to set their own goals

See Example Client Centered Goal Setting below

Make goals public (Kyllo & Landers 1995)

Goal Conflict

Goal conflict (AKA competing goals) are goals that compete with each other, such that the pursuit of one goal detracts from the pursuit of the other (Emmon, King & Sheldon, 1993). Goal conflict can lead to ambivalence about progress toward competing goals and concomitant decrements in psychological and physical health.

Types and Examples:

Inherent conflict arises when progress toward one goal implies more difficulty in reaching another goal.

Pursuing a goal to lose weight undermines a goal to go out for ice cream with one’s friends, and vice versa.

Resting an injury impedes ability to prepare for competition, and visa versa.

Resource conflict arises from limited resources (eg: time, money, energy, etc.) available to pursue valued goals

Pursuing multiple sports or activities concurrently.

Goal conflict can be resolved by giving up or at least reducing commitment to one of the conflicting goals. Optimistic individuals are more likely to adopt and retain conflicting goals, particularly goals competing for resources. On the other hand, optimistic individuals have lower levels of depression and less rumination, which are potential consequences of conflicting goals (Segerstrom & Solberg Nes 2006).

Also see Self Sabotaging Behavior.

Emmons RA., King LA, Sheldon K. (1993). Goal conflict and the self-regulation of action. In Wegner DM , Pennebaker JW (Eds.), Handbook of Mental Control. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. 528-551.

Segerstrom SC, Solberg Nes L. (2006). When goals conflict but people prosper. The case of dispositional optimism. Journal of Research in Personality, 40, 675-693.

Other Considerations

Make goals challenging, but realistic

Moderately difficult goals can improve performance, greater than goals that are too easy or difficult (Kyllo & Landers 1995).

Set positive goals

Negative goals may trigger negative self-talk, which may decrease performance (Van Raalte 1994)

Set a date goal will be achieved

decreases procrastination

make realistic, but achievable

Commit to goals

Vital factor for achieving goals (Theodorakis 1996)

Coach or trainer can facilitate commitment

Make goals attractive (Hollenbeck & Klein 1987)

Develop self-confidence (Hollenbeck & Klein 1987)

Encourage self-responsibility

Record goals and keep them where they will be seen regularly


Identify objective

what you want to accomplish

Identify best outcome goals necessary to reach objective

Identify behavior goals necessary to reach outcome goals

how to accomplish your outcome goals

"people don't plan to fail, they fail to plan"

Commit and implement plan

Regularly assess progress

Fitness tests, training journal, food diary, etc.

Modify goals if necessary

Lower goals that are found to be unrealistic

Recognize goals or objective change throughout time

Recommit to goals if necessary

SMART Criteria:






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