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Sport Science Review

The Journal of National Institute for Sport Research

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The Art of Goal Setting: A Tale of Doing Sport Psychology in Professional Football

Carsten Hvid Larsen
  • Corresponding author
  • Institute of Sport Science and Clinical Biomechanics, University of Southern Denmark, Odense
  • Email:
/ Christian Engell
  • Institute of Sport Science and Clinical Biomechanics, University of Southern Denmark, Odense
  • Email:
Published Online: 2013-05-10 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/ssr-2013-0004

The presence of sport psychologists in football is still a recent occurrence and has come about thanks to the improved education received by the coaching staff. However, sport psychology in football is still viewed upon with skepticism, as problem solving. One of the most common psychological strategies is goal setting. Nowadays it is hard to imagine clubs or players who do not use such strategies. In general, the correct application of goal setting principles provides a strong foundation for designing a goalsetting program. Nevertheless, there is a difference between the “science” of setting goals, and the ability of the sport psychologist practicing the “art” and process of setting goals. This case study involved four professional football players, from a team in the highest league in Denmark. We collected data through questionnaires, interviews and observations during a year. The results shows, that the “art” of goal setting is a dynamic, ever changing, complex phenomenon, the method itself has to be flexible, in order to search for new knowledge in a goal setting process in sport psychology consulting underlining that the individual sessions and success is socially constructed and created between sport psychologist and player.

Keywords: goal setting theory; football; sport psychology

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About the article

Carsten Hvid Larsen

Ph.D. Fellow at the University of Southern Denmark, Institute of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics and an applied sport psychology consultant in professional football, martial arts and tennis. He is the former President of the Danish Sport Psychology Association (2010-2012)

Christian Engell

Ph.D. Fellow at the University of Southern Denmark, Institute of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics and an applied sport psychology consultant working with several international players in in professional football basketball and tennis in Denmark and Europe

Published Online: 2013-05-10

Published in Print: 2013-04-01

Citation Information: Sport Science Review, ISSN (Online) 2069-7244, ISSN (Print) 2066-8732, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/ssr-2013-0004. Export Citation

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