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date: 20 September 2019

Summary and Keywords

Within sporting contexts, goal setting is a commonly used technique that can lead to enhanced performance. Recommendations for goal setting have been widely embraced in sport and performance settings by researchers, practitioners, athletes, and coaches. However, it could be argued that these recommendations are overly simplistic, and that a lack of critical commentary in the sporting literature fails to acknowledge the complexity of goal setting in practice. For example, there has been limited acknowledgement within the applied recommendations of important factors such as personal differences with those individuals setting goals, contextual and environmental factors, and the characteristics of goals being pursed. Equally, the focus of goal setting research and practice has predominantly been on goal progress or goal attainment, thus overlooking the wider benefits of effective goal pursuit on additional aspects such as well-being. Similarly, the interactions between these factors has gained little attention with the academic literature or applied recommendations. This may result in diminished effectiveness of goal setting for athletes, and ultimately lead to sub-optimal performance and well-being.

Critical and comprehensive reviews of the literature are timely and necessary, in order to develop a deeper understanding of goal setting in sport and performance. Combining research from both within sport and from theorists examining goals within other contexts can enhance our understanding of how to promote and support adaptive goal pursuit within sport and performance. Overall, this may lead to more appropriate and useful recommendations for researchers, athletes, coaches, and applied practitioners, ensuring that goal setting can be an effective technique for a range of individuals within sport and performance contexts.

Keywords: goal setting, goal pursuit, goal motives, goal self-regulation, goal difficulty, individual differences, well-being, sport psychology, coaching, goal disengagement

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