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Abstract

This paper explores the effects of goal setting on the performance of collegiate athletes, specifically looking at differences among gender and type of sport and differences among types of goals set. The participants consisted of 68 students (31 male and 37 female) chosen via a convenience sample. Data was gathered using a survey consisting of questions involving goal setting answered using a 1-5 Likert scale. It was analyzed and compared across gender and type and level of sport using a T-test at an alpha level of 0.10. Multiple categories were statistically different. Males set more outcome goals than females (t=1.848), athletes in individual sports set more process goals (t=2.503) and fewer outcome goals (t=-1.79) and achieve fewer goals (t=-3.87) than those in team sports, and high school athletes set more outcome goals (t=1.952) and fewer specific (t=-2.055) and process (t=-2.911) goals than high school athletes. Three of the four hypotheses were supported by the study. Men were found to set more outcome goals than women, athletes in team sports set more outcome goals than those in individual sports, and athletes in team sports saw less of an increase in performance through goal setting than those in individual sports. This study found men to set goals slightly more frequently than women, rejecting the first hypothesis. It also supported that all the characteristics of Sullivan and Strode’s (2010) “SMAART” principle (specific, measurable, aggressive yet achievable, relevant, and timely) lead to successful goals. This study was limited by time and resources available.

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