Achievement goals and motivational responses in tennis: Does the context matter?

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Objectives:This study examined: (a) whether athletes’ goal orientations differ across training and competition; (b) whether goal orientations predict effort, enjoyment, and psychological skill use differently in training and competition; and (c) whether goal orientations predict perceived improvement in training and perceived performance in competition.Method:Participants were 116 competitive tennis players (mean age = 19.99, SD = 5.82), who completed questionnaires measuring goal orientations, effort, enjoyment, and psychological skill use in training and competition, perceived improvement in training, and perceived performance in competition.Results:Dependent t-tests revealed that athletes reported higher task orientation in training than in competition and higher ego orientation in competition than in training. Regression analyses indicated that task orientation predicted positively effort, enjoyment, self-talk, and goal setting in both contexts, perceived improvement in training, and perceived performance in competition. An interaction effect also emerged whereby ego orientation predicted positively effort in competition only when task orientation was low or average.Conclusions:Our findings suggest that goal orientations may differ between training and competition; task orientation is the goal that should be promoted in both contexts; and the context may affect the relationship between goal orientations and effort, enjoyment, and goal setting.

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