Setting goals in an individual sports requires that there is a clear level of commitment. This level isn’t as important as the requirement that the level has been clearly identified. The goals for an elite athlete will be different from a weekend warrior or an individual who wants to have a bit of fun every week. But in each case goals should be set to improve the performance level of each athlete.
The next step to determine goal setting in sports is to analyze the sport, your past participation, the position you play and your time limitations. The goals that are set should address the skills that should be mastered to improve performance and achieve the highest level possible within the sports under the commitment level and time constraint which the athlete performs.
And, before setting goals for the sport in your life, it is important to consider the rest of your life. By taking a strong look at the goals for your life you can assess the commitment to a sport in the context of career, relationships, education and family.
Goals should be written down and referred to several times a week. While you may feel your goals are a burning passion in the immediate time period, unless you remind yourself consistently your passion may fade and so may your memory. Write down not only your athletic goals but also the goals you have for your life. This will help to keep it all in perspective.
The way to set goals that are effective and achievable is to understand the assessments you made, knowing the skills you have and the ones you need to acquire. Another criteria to consider is that goals that are stated positively will drive you toward success. For instance: ‘I will be financially independent.’ is better than ‘I will be out of debt.’
Be precise when you state your goals. Using precision the goals will include a date for completion, time and amounts of work to accomplish the goal, and criteria that are measurable. You will be able to measure if you are accomplishing your goal if want to run a 8 minute mile in a 5K and can measure the movement toward that goal over time.
If you have several goals in your athletic endeavors then set priorities. There will be one that is more important than the others. This helps to keep feelings of being overwhelmed from frightening you. Your attention can be directed to the most important goals.
Under each overall goal you’ll have an operational goal for an individual workout session or season. Make these small and very achievable. Nothing spells disaster faster than setting goals that are not achievable leaving you feeling small and as if you failed. The only thing you would have failed at is knowing how to write strong, achievable goals – not your athletic endeavors.
When you are writing measurable goals be sure they are performance goals. Don’t write a goal that you are going to take first in the Fall 5K because you don’t have control over that goal. Take a look at the winning time and determine if that time is within your grasp. Setting a goal that addresses the time it takes to run the 5K is in your control.
One pitfall of all athletes who are new to setting goals is that they are either too high or too low. Setting goals at the right level is a skill acquired by practice. A coach, mentor, sports psychologist or team coordinator may be able to help you set realistic goals.
Set goals that are out of your immediate grasp but not so far that achieving them is impossible in the time period outlined. Personal factors such as fatigue, injury, time in the season, and personal commitments should be taken into account when setting your goals for the season.