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Finding Murray's magic
Date:6/23/2013

wed that the reasons behind a sportsperson's goal are important to know, not just the actual goal."

This research goes a step further than the existing body of knowledge on the role of goal-setting in sport by examining the impact of different types of motivation in the face of tough goals. The researchers carried out two sophisticated experiments that asked over 180 athletes to complete a range of cycling tests. By ensuring some of the tests were unattainable, the psychologists were able to explore how the athletes coped with goal failure.

"We found autonomous motives such as enjoyment or personal importance were a double-edged sword," explained Professor Sedikides, a social and personality psychologist from the University of Southampton. "Athletes with autonomous motives put in more effort and persisted for longer which helped them reach higher levels of performance with increasingly difficult but attainable goals. Yet when the goal became unachievable, they had great difficulty realising this, which led to brooding over the failure as the athletes struggled to disengage from the goal."

The research concludes that coaches and applied sport psychologists need to be aware of athletes' motives for their goals to help them be most effective, successful and adaptive in their goal striving. Future research aims to explore how to help sportspeople (and individuals with other goals, such as weight loss) realise early that some goals are unachievable and to have the flexibility to develop alternative goals that contribute to their long-term objectives.


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