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J Strength Cond Res. 2013 Oct;27(10):2806-15. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31828151ca.

The relationship between an effort goal and self-regulatory efficacy beliefs for division I football players.

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1Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education, Northern Illinois University, Dekalb, Illinois 2Department of Psychiatry, Yale Stress Center, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut.


When training for sport, it can be argued that self-regulation-or how athletes attempt to learn new skills-is vital for success. However, self-regulation means little if athletes cannot apply it in the throes of adversity. Specifically, the confidence one has to use self-regulation skills (i.e., self-regulatory efficacy [SRE]) when faced with adverse conditions can contribute to positive or negative behavioral implications when examined in conjunction with an athlete's current goals. Therefore, the purpose of this study was twofold: (a) determine if athletes who hold an effort goal when training for sport will have higher SRE scores; and (b) assess the relationship between effort goals and SRE, as the strength of one's effort goal increases. In phase 1, interviews with 11 Division I athletes were conducted to determine the most salient dissuading conditions athletes experience when training for sport. This process resulted in 27 factors that were implemented into a questionnaire for phase 2. During this latter phase, 402 Division I football players (Mage = 20.1 years, SD = 1.3 years) completed a 2-part goal statement along with an SRE questionnaire. The results indicated that athletes who held a criterion effort goal related to training (n = 362) had significantly higher SRE scores when compared with athletes who did not report having an effort goal F(27,401) = 1.89, p < 0.01. Additionally, as athletes' effort goal increased, stronger SRE beliefs resulted for all dissuading conditions, with all p values <0.05. Based on these results, practitioners are encouraged to facilitate goal setting sessions early and often with athletes as a way to combat the negative effects of low SRE beliefs.

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