Using Goal Setting to Foster Personal Growth in German Elite Student-Athletes

Sebastian Brueckner, Saarbruecken Olympic Training Center, Germany

Theme: Mental training/interventions

Poster Number: 128

Program ID: POS-2

Presentation: October 4, 2013 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

Room: Napoleon


Elite Athlete High Schools (EAHS) are an integral part of Germany’s support system for junior athletes aspiring to transfer into senior level international competition in Olympic sports. The EAHS in Saarbruecken, one of 40 such high schools throughout Germany, implemented a two-year psychological skills training (PST) program in 2008. In an ongoing effort to develop and improve course content, mandatory goal setting meetings for student-athletes have been added to the curriculum of this program. The effectiveness of goal setting exercises has been demonstrated in other domains (e.g., organizational psychology). Positive effects have also been reported for sport settings (cf. Burton & Naylor, 2002). Thus, using goal setting with elite student-athletes has the potential to influence not only current athletic and school performance, but also foster long-term personal growth. In this presentation, the science-practitioner approach that informs the goal setting process at the EAHS in Saarbruecken will be discussed (Locke & Latham, 1990). Basic goal setting techniques are taught in a classroom setting. Student-athletes are required to schedule four mandatory individual meetings on goal setting with the sport psychologist teaching in the PST program over the two-year period enrolled in class. These individual sessions focus on both athletic and academic achievement and help student-athletes in planning, achievement and evaluation phases. Since implementing the goal setting meetings in 2012, 53 student-athletes have scheduled appointments and set goals. Feedback from student-athletes suggests that they meet their goals and also value the meetings (“it really helped me”, “that’s a good thing”). Future improvements of the goal setting approach within the PST program could involve the inclusion of the coaches and teachers of the student-athletes as well as assessment of personal growth using the Volitional Components Inventory (VCI; Kuhl, 2010).

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