Goals give you the motivation to stick to your routine and perseverance to move on when the unplanned happens. Burnout, illness, and injury are just a few factors that may interrupt your training routine. When the road turns in another direction, setting short and long-term goals help you stay on track in a number of ways:
- They can allow you to focus on what is required to improve.
- They can provide and clarify your direction.
- They can increase determination and persistence to achieve a task.
- They can increase confidence when tasks and goals are achieved.
Goals should be self-motivated so you can value the importance of individual achievement and constant self improvement (Russell, Goal). As an athlete, the core concepts of getting bigger, faster, and stronger are all good motivations to improve. In determining your goals think about what you want to achieve on the field (i.e. get stronger to hit the ball, run faster) and the core concepts you need to work on to get there. If you understand why you are striving for a goal then your training (i.e. in the weightroom) is more focused and more realistic to achieve (Goal).
Here are 3 phases of goal development that guide you to excellence.
Phase 1. Through your performance profile you identify an area you would like to work on under each category, physical, mental, sport, and lifestyle skills.
Phase 2. The next step is to identify what can be done to help you improve the quality. Then you can set your goals accordingly. The S.M.A.R.T. approach is a very simple and effective formula for both your short and long-term goals.
Make your goals SMART:
Specific – the goal should be stated as clearly and precisely in the area that needs to be improved (i.e. hamstring flexibility).
Measurable – the goal should be measurable in some way (i.e. sit-and-reach test). Subjective ratings can work here also as long as you measure yourself by the same standard or scale each time.
Adjustable – the goal should be able to be adjusted if you are progressing faster or slower than anticipated (i.e. re-evaluate at 2 weeks).
Realistic – the goal should be challenging but also something you can achieve in the time frame set out (i.e. daily stretching).
Time-based – the goal should have a particular time by which it needs to be achieved (2-4 weeks).
Phase 3. Review and evaluate your progress.
At the end of each month…
- Go back and check your progress on each goal. You can measure your progress, solicit feedback from others such as coaches and give yourself recognition for the actions that you have accomplished.
- List the actions you took that contributed to you moving toward your goal.
- List the actions that you took that didn't contribute to you moving toward your goal.
- Identify what actions you had trouble implementing and why.
- Modify your action plan by making adjustments or new actions that you can implement for the upcoming month.
Creating goals as part of your training routine is the core to personal achievement. Identifying your goals using the S.M.A.R.T. formula gives you guidance towards performing successfully. Success gives you confidence in sport and in life. The physical and mental skills you develop from achievement help build character to strive for excellence. Competing with yourself to improve not only motivates you to continue training but also encourages others around you to challenge themselves.
Russell, William D. " Children's Goal Orientation and Motivation in Physical Education Settings." SIRC Newsletter. July 2004. 10 June 2008 <http://www.canadiansport.ca/newsletters/july/goalorientation.cfm>.
Goal Setting For Athletes. 2006. Elite Fitness Systems. 10 June 2008 <http://www.elitefts.com/documents/goal_setting.htm>.
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