Outcome goals are what we are trying to achieve, while task oriented goals are what enables us to achieve the outcome goals. As much as you would like to win and be ranked at the top in your division, you need to learn to focus on the task at hand, and spend a lot of time running, lifting, and hitting good strokes. All the athletes have the same task and ego oriented sides. Some players are more ego oriented than others, and some are more task oriented than others. While both ego and task orientations are very important, ego orientation can both help and hinder performance.
Ego orientation can help performance when the ego side of you pushes you to go out and practice hard, and go through tough practices and conditioning so you can improve. On the other hand, the ego side of you can make you perform poorly when you get caught up in “how I look” or “what will they think of me.” When your ego mind takes over your body the following can typically result:
- Your anxiety level is going to be high because you are focusing on and worrying about winning and not losing.
- This high anxiety causes muscle tension.
- When you have too much muscle tension your swing becomes tight and you will start moving slower.
- When your swing is tight and moving slower, you will start miss timing the ball and get off balance, which will result in a lot of mistakes.
- Frustration will build up because your expectations (winning) are not being met.
In some cases, as frustration builds you can lose self control and say or behave in an
inappropriate manner. Your focus should remain entirely in the moment. As much as you want to win, focus is on the task at hand in each present moment; and if you take care of each present moment well, you will perform up to your potential.
However, when you are task oriented:
- Your anxiety level is low because you are focused on how to hit good strokes and strategizing ways to play your opponent.
- Your muscles are loose and relaxed because your anxiety level is low.
- Because your muscles are loose, your swings are free and you are moving well, which enables you to perform better.
- You are focused more on hitting a proper ground stroke rather than hitting it in or winning the point.
- Even when you make a few mistakes you do not get frustrated or angry because you are not worrying about winning, just thinking about doing it correct the next time.
- In some cases, because you are focused so much on the task at hand, everything is just flowing, and it happens very naturally and fast. You may feel like you are not thinking at all. This is referred to as being “in the zone.” Playing “in the zone” is often associated with peak performance and performing at a very high level.
When athletes are engaged in goal setting programs for a long period of time, it helps athletes to bring out more of the task orientation side of them, which enhances the performance because lower anxiety levels aid in having the right focus of attention.