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The effects of goal specificity and goal difficulty on the performance of badminton skills in children

Mooney, R.P. and Mutrie, N. (2000) The effects of goal specificity and goal difficulty on the performance of badminton skills in children. Pediatric Exercise Science, 12 (3). pp. 270-283. ISSN 0899-8493

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Abstract

The present study examines the effects of goal specificity and goal difficulty on performance in a sports setting for children while attempting to control for the effects of social comparison. Participants (N = 46) were matched on their baseline performance on two badminton tasks (underhand serve and drop shot) and then randomly assigned to one of three goal setting conditions: (a) easy goals, (b) difficult goals, and (c) do-your-best goals. Results suggest that the easy and difficult groups showed a significant improvement in performance for both experimental tasks, whereas the do-your-best group did not display any improvement. However, no significant differences were found between easy goals and difficult goals. Further analyses reveal that age effects were not significant. Manipulation checks indicate that all children accepted their assigned goals and intended to try extremely hard to reach them. The implications of these results are discussed in terms of Locke's (18) goal setting theory as well as previous research in physical activity settings. Future directions for research are suggested.