Karlene Sugarman explains how to approach goal-setting with your team
In sports, as well as in life, it is very important to set goals for yourself. They provide direction so that you can achieve the things that will bring you happiness and success. When setting goals, the succession of events goes like this: set a goal, have a detailed plan, commit to that plan, and then act. Sound easy? It can be if you take goal setting seriously and approach it systematically.
First you need a long-term goal. A long-term goal is an objective statement about a specific achievement that can be measured. What is it the team wants to accomplish? Or, what is it I want to achieve? An example of this would be "to finish 50th or above at the end of season," or "to have a fielding percentage of at least 94% at the end of the season." When most players are asked what their goal is they typically reply, "I want to win," "Play in the pros," or "Be the best." These statements tell you little on how to achieve this and they do not direct your behaviour. It is very important for the team, coaches and individual players to have a long-term goal in mind. Approach your long-term goal incrementally - one game at a time, one practice at a time and one short-term goal at a time - otherwise it may seem too overwhelming and out of reach. Place all your efforts and energy into achieving this goal. Keeping in mind, "What is it I need to do to attain my definitive goal?" If you are not sure of numbers, a suggestion is to look at the numbers from last year, as well as the numbers of the team that won the league/conference and make a realistic assessment that way. Coaches should help their athletes set team goals, as well as encourage them to set individual goals that coincide with the team's goals.
One problem that teams tend to have is that they set long-term goals at the beginning of the season, then never go back to see how they are doing, and they do not really talk about their goals or strategies to get there. Former San Francisco 49er, Dr. Jamie Williams says, "Every team in the league will say they want to win the Super Bowl, but the 49ers take steps and strategies to achieve that goal, positive strategies. All things are pointed in the direction of that goal, which is why they are there." There must be consensus among the team in regard to the team goals, as well as an ongoing, periodic review and assessment of the goals so that they do not lose their effectiveness. Sometimes goals need to be adjusted along the way to keep them challenging, as well as realistic.
Then, it is important to set short-term and daily goals that lead up to the long-term goal. These become the stepping stones along the way. As you achieve each short-term goal your self-confidence will grow, and you will be that much closer to the next one. Keep in mind, goal-setting plays an integral role in you achieving success, so it is important to take the time to set some goals!
I have already talked about the importance of goal-setting, but you also need to be dedicated mentally and physically to achieving the goals you have set for yourself. Follow these practical tips to help you with that:
When setting your goals, keep these things in mind; and, do not forget . . . the journey of 1,000 miles begins with 1 step.
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About the Author
Karlene is a Mental Training Consultant in California and works with athletes and teams teaching mental training techniques and team building strategies. She works with athletes in various sports and has worked with the University of San Diego baseball team since 2000. She is a Professor in the Sport Psychology program at John F. Kennedy University.
Karlene is the author of the book, Winning the Mental Way: A practical guide to team building and mental training. She is a member of the Association of Applied Sport Psychology (AASP) and a member of IDEA Health & Fitness Association. She is also on the Board of Directors for the First Base Foundation.
The following Sports Coach pages provide additional information on this topic: