Goal Orientations, Beliefs About Success and Performance Among Individual and Team Athletes

by Christine Little

The purpose of the current study was to examine athlete motivation utilizing an achievement goal theory approach. Within achievement goal theory athletes are predisposed to be task and/or ego oriented. Research has shown that these goal orientations are correlated with athletes’ beliefs about what contributes to success in sport. While there has been extensive research on the relationship between goal orientations and beliefs about success, research is limited when predicting performance from these factors. Thus, one purpose of the present research was to extend on previous research, which has found a positive relationship between high performance and a high task orientation. Secondly, no studies to date have compared athlete involvement in team versus individual sport in goal orientation and beliefs about success. It was hypothesized that team sport athletes would score higher in ego orientation compared to individual sport athletes. Participants in the study included 102 team athletes from varsity men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball teams, and 49 equestrian athletes from the Canadian Quarter Horse Association and/or American Quarter Horse Association. The results showed that there was a consistent relationship between goal orientations and beliefs about success as had been found in previous studies. It was also shown that there was a difference in goal orientations and beliefs about success between individual and team athletes, although these findings did not support our original hypothesis.