top of page


Want to see some of Dia's work? Here is some excerpts of some of the papers she has written.. enjoy!


By Dia Syed

           The goal setting theory, according to Latham states “that consciously setting performance goals increases the targeted behaviour by guiding individual attention, motivation and strategies towards specific objectives” (Latham, 2016). There are several major points that can affect goal setting which include “an individual’s ability to obtain the goal, task complexity, commitment towards the goal, feedback on performance and resources for attaining the…goal” (Chevance et al., 2021). In a team setting, this is why it’s important to distinguish the types of goals that an athlete can set.


The three types include outcome, performance and process goals. Outcome goals focus on a result of an event or a competition. This type of goal cannot be modified as the results are final and unchangeable. Next, is performance goals which is looking at personal performance and technique. Normally, an athlete will compare their results to their pervious performance when setting this type of goal. Finally, process goals focus on the steps of the skill in order to perform well (Weinburg and Gould, 2019). By choosing to only focus on an outcome goal you can potentially increase the stress and anxiety of the athlete because the athlete might deem that task impossible with their current skill level. The perception of the threat of the demand out-weights the actual demand and the time given to achieve that goal (Weinburg and Gould, 2019). The task now seems too complex to achieve which might demotivate them and have the opposite effect.


To create an effective goal setting program, a coach must focus on creating small, incremental and attainable goals to help achieve the outcome goal. By focusing on process and performance-based goals, the athlete begins to see their own progress. These goals are also independent of everyone else therefore there is less stress put on the athlete (Weinburg and Gould, 2019). They see themselves as able to achieve the goal in a reasonable time, the task is not too complex, and they are able to receive feedback at the appropriate time. All of this gets an athlete excited to see the next step and can guide their passion towards the sport because they begin to see results.


Chevance, G., Baretta, D., Golaszewski, N., Takemoto, M., Shrestha, S., Jain, S., Rivera, D. E., Klasnja, P., & Hekler, E. (2021). Goal setting and achievement for walking: A series of N-of-1 digital interventions. Health Psychology, 40(1), 30–39.


Latham, G. P. (2016). Goal-setting theory: Causal relationships, media- tors, and moderators. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Psychology. 


Weinberg, Robert S., and Daniel Gould. Foundations of Sport and Exercise Psychology. 7th ed., Human Kinetics, 2019. 


Woods, Ron. Social Issues in Sport. 3rd ed., Human Kinetics, 2016. 

Girls, Sports & Stress

Can self-efficacy play a role in pursuing sports?

By Dia Syed

    The development of self-efficacy can play a huge role in our daily decision, interactions and perceived stress. Looking back to our adolescent years, we most likely remember a confusing time of social acceptance and wavering confidence. We plan to explore the relationship between adolescent girls and stress of sports, and provide practical advice that can encourage them to continue in sports. 

    It has been observed that growing adolescent minds do not just absorb and copy the culture they experience, they also reshape it (Ginsburg & Kinsman, 2014). Self-efficacy as defined by Bandura as “a belief that we can succeed at a specific activity that we want to do.” (Sarafino, Smith, King & DeLongis, 2015, p. 84). In the context of the social cognitive theory, self-efficacy is fostered by a personal reflection of outside influences such as observational learning and reinforcement. Therefore, self-efficacy is built on the relationship between the person, environment and behaviour (Sarafino, Smith, King & DeLongis, 2015). Success of a particular activity can be determined based on prior observation of themselves and others which may help them decide whether or not to pursue the activity, regardless of whether or not the activity is good for them. (Sarafino, Smith, King & DeLongis, 2015). The discourse between the positive or negative outcome of the activity and the approval or rejection from peers, can subject teenage girls to stress.

    Students that maintained high self-efficacy and overcame barriers to physical activity were able to continue to be active even when their social circles changed (Dishman, McIver, Dowda, Saunders & Pate, 2019). It is also shown that increased self-efficacy can lead to a better athletic performance. (Urdan & Pajares, 2006) Unfortunately, girls tend to be more vulnerable to the negative effects of stress and therefore are more susceptible to lower levels of self-efficacy (Björling & Singh. 2017). According to Björling and Singh, in a study of stress among teenage girls, a common stressor is stress about what others think (Björling, Singh. 2017). When it comes to sports, the main goal is to perform well under the watchful eye of your peers, coach, teammates and family; the pressure of performance can be a huge source of stress and anxiety if an individual believes that they lack the ability to complete the task at hand. Even if they have the skill to succeed, the absence of support from their social circles can cause them to question their place on the team.

    Generally, social acceptance in sport is based on the outcome rather than the steps it took to learn the skills. If teammates decided to celebrate the success of learning each step, this might bring some appreciation and respect towards the individual. For example, if an individual can’t score a basket in basketball but they took the steps needed to perform a lay up correctly while observing their teammates praised for completing the correct steps, then this might increase their confidence and keep trying. One way to encourage this growth in self-efficacy is that educators must reinforce the importance of understanding the process of attaining a skill. Similarly, educators must possess a strong understanding of motivation and how it translates to team accountability and motivation. Secondly, the focus shifts towards understanding why an individual may not be receiving the social support of their peers. In a study done in Los Angeles with Girls Basketball, results show that team bonding workshops did not help with social bonding nearly as much as the team bonding that happened over time during the season (Kernan & Greenfield, 2005). By providing an opportunity for teenagers to be connected to a physically-active social group while encouraging positive communication, they may likely become more comfortable and confident. For example, coach may direct a small team bonding activity during each practice that allows for everyone’s participation and encourages them to get to know each other throughout the entire season.

    Self-efficacy can affects how girls perceive a stressful experience on a sport team. The level of self-efficacy is heavily shaped by socialization during adolescence. Social perception of skill execution or interaction with teammates and coaches can determine the confidence that they have to over come the stress they experience. By providing proper training to teachers and coaches to motivate correctly, teach process-based success and encourage positive socialization, we may be able to improve the level of self-efficacy for adolescent girls to continue to participate in sport.


Bjorling, E. A., & Singh, N. B. (2017). Anger without Agency: Exploring the Experiences of Stress in Adolescent Girls. The Qualitative Report, 10, 2583


Dishman, R. K., McIver, K. L., Dowda, M., Saunders, R. P., & Pate, R. R. (2019). Self-efficacy, beliefs, and goals: Moderation of declining physical activity during adolescence. Health Psychology, 38(6), 483–493.


Ginsburg, K. R., American Academy of Pediatrics, & Kinsman, S. B. (2014). Guiding Adolescents to Use Healthy Strategies to Manage Stress. American Academy of Pediatrics.


Kernan, C., & Greenfield, P. (2005). Becoming a Team: Individualism, Collectivism, Ethnicity, and Group Socialization in Los Angeles Girls' Basketball. Ethos, 33(4), 542-566. Retrieved from


Sarafino, E. P., Smith, T. W., King, D. B., DeLongis, A.(2015). Health Psychology: Biopsychosocial Interactions Canadian Edition

Urdan, T. C., & Pajares, F. (2006). Self-efficacy Beliefs of Adolescents. Information Age Publishing.

Jumpstarts Keeping Girls in Sport: 

A Review 

By Dia Syed

         The Respect Group, Canadian Women & Sport and offer an incredibly informative course through Jumpstart called “Keeping Girls in Sport”. Through this online course participants are challenged to think differently about how they approach girl’s participation in sport. The underlying theme emphasized is that girls will first join a sport or an activity for acceptance. This will lead to their effort and this results in performance. By emphasizing this progression that leads to participation, the course gives coaches and sports organization a base to work on to keep girls in sport. 

         As mentioned before, girl’s progression is acceptance, effort then performance. To contrast, boys take on a very different progression of effort, performance and then acceptance. The effort that they put into a sport leads them to social acceptance whereas girls want to be accepted and fit in before they even begin to try. By realizing this, people need to look at how we approach tryouts in any sport for girls. If acceptance is what they are seeking, then to be cut from a team could potentially lead them to quit sport altogether. Providing alternative recreational teams could be a solution to this, this at least allows the first stage of acceptance to take place. 

         There are three additional key points this course brings up to keep girls engaged. As mentioned before, first and foremost is social connection and acceptance. If a girl doesn’t feel like she belongs, regardless of the skill level than she will most likely walk away from the sport. Girls also want to see progression of their skill. This requires the coaches to acknowledge the developmental level they are at. This can be done through understanding the Long Term Athlete Development model rather than what is typically expected at their age. This will increase the likelihood of the girls seeing a progression and help them set appropriate goals they can achieve in a reasonable amount of time. Finally, the course emphasizes the fact that girls need positive role models. Role models who can be there to encourage them and not put unnecessary pressure on them. People in these positions need to realize every athlete is worth their time and attention. 

        This course was incredibly informative and I highly recommend anyone to take this course. The information above is a very general overview of the course and there is a lot more information that can be taken away from it. If you are interested in taking the course please got to this link below.

Works Cited

Harber, Vicki, et al. Keeping Girls in Sport, 2004, 

Fuelling Kids Passion for Sport 

By Dia Syed

         Kids typically should at least get one hour, or more, of moderate to vigorous activity daily to get the health benefit of physical activity (Canada, 2019). At a younger age this type of activity is generally met by playing with others. A lot of the time it is not competitive driven and is simply to have fun playing the game and be with their friends. As kids get older, they tend engage more in competitive physical activity such as sports. This type of activity does require a certain level of drive and motivation to attempt to beat your opponent. The fun is not only a combination of playing the sport and being with friends, which is similar to play, but also the competition (Wood, 2016). Unfortunately, nowadays after one bad experience a lot of kids turn away from sports. One of the factors this can be attributed to is the emphasis on extrinsic motivation rather than a person’s intrinsic motivation. Many kids are focusing more on the prize, rather than the value of sport development and a personal drive to get better. There are many ways to combat this but of course it varies depending on the individual. The primary approach that a coach should take is to figure out what motivates their athletes and why, then they can begin the process on reworking their motivation, so they are internally motivated. 

         To begin, coaches and leaders must figure out how kids develop intrinsic motivation. In fact, according to research children generally are intrinsically motivated when they participate in sports (Weinburg and Gould, 2019, p. 687). Some of the motivation factors include “having fun, learning new skills, doing something one is good at, being with friends, making new friends, maintain fitness, exercising and experience success” (Weinburg and Gould, 2019, p. 687). So why are youth dropping out? One main reason is “the child’s need to feel worthy and competent” (Weinburg and Gould, 2019, p. 687). If an interaction with a team or a coach leave the child feeling like they do not belong or are in adequate for the sport, then they tend to walk away from it completely. This can be contributed to low confidence levels due to a low level of self-efficacy and perceived competencies. This low level of self-confidence can lead a child to resort to looking at external motivating factors. Today’s sport culture tends to focus on winning or being one of the “greats” and the fame that goes along with it. Therefore, kids shift their own motivation to external factors as a means of instant gratification. They begin to create an outcome goal or an expectation that they need to meet. However, if the youth doesn’t get it then failure they experience can be devastating. This can create a more permanent leave from any sport or physical activity. The goal then is to attempt to increase a youth’s level of self-efficacy and change their perceived competencies. This will increase their confidence to complete the task which would help intrinsically motivate them to continue with the sport, despite negative circumstance that may arise.  In other words, even if they fail but they know they can eventually master the skill, then they are more likely to continue.  

        A very effective technique to help increase self-efficacy and perceived competences is to teach goal setting strategies for sport and physical activity. This along with exposing youth to the stages of development can help them see that they are progressing in the right direction. To begin, coaches and physical education teachers need to teach youth how to establish three types of goals: outcome, performance and process goals. Outcome based goals help kids see an end goal whereas performance goals help them look at their personal performance and technique. Finally, process goals are the steps towards the final skill. By focusing more on performance and process goals, this allows youth to see real success in a shorter period of time. It also gives them flexibility to adjust the goals if need be. This early success can begin to build their confidence and the ability to manipulate the goal can avoid utter disappointment if they find the goal unattainable. By using this type of strategy, it can help build the confidence that is needed to overcome a bad experience. Transparency on the developmental stages can also help youth understand that there is a process to learning and mastery. However, instead of focusing on the developmental age of the athlete, a coach or teacher can focus on the developmental ability of the athlete. If they are 17 and trying out a sport for the first time, it’s unrealistic to expect them to be at the level of all the other 17-year-olds who have played in the sport for a couple of years. Therefore, the athlete will appropriately a line their perceive ability or competencies with the stage they are at and develop of vision of where they can actually get to. By incorporating goal setting and an understanding of physical ability development, this can help youth increase their level of self-efficacy and perceived competencies. This will help increase their intrinsic motivation because the process and performance goals really focus on a player’s personal development and they are essentially comparing their improvement to themself, not to a prize at the end of the season.  Ultimately, this gives youth the tools to see past all the outside distractions and look to themselves to continue in the sport. The love of the game does develop with success, but that idea of success needs to be redirected to appropriate level to build the right kind of motivation and confidence. 


           Intrinsic motivation is a key aspect to help youth pursue and stay in sport. Unfortunately, today there are many external distractions that re-direct that type of motivation. When this happens, one bad event or experience can lead to youth dropping out of sports. To help youth develop intrinsic motivation, coaches and physical education teachers must help increase a child’s level of self-efficacy and perceive competencies which can be done through goal-setting strategies and also transparency in the physical development process. This can give youth the confidence to look to their own performance and passion of the sport so that one bad experience doesn’t have them walk away from sport or physical activity for good. Ultimately, youth just want to have fun and play the sport they love, one bad experience should never ruin it for them. 


Canada, Public Health Agency of. “Government of Canada.”, / Gouvernement Du Canada, 7 Nov. 2019,

Chevance, G., Baretta, D., Golaszewski, N., Takemoto, M., Shrestha, S., Jain, S., Rivera, D. E., Klasnja, P., & Hekler, E. (2021). Goal setting and achievement for walking: A series of N-of-1 digital interventions. Health Psychology, 40(1), 30–39.

Latham, G. P. (2016). Goal-setting theory: Causal relationships, media- tors, and moderators. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Psychology. 

Weinberg, Robert S., and Daniel Gould. Foundations of Sport and Exercise Psychology. 7th ed., Human Kinetics, 2019. 

Woods, Ron. Social Issues in Sport. 3rd ed., Human Kinetics, 2016. 

bottom of page