By: Dan Gould & Cliff Mallett
Originally Published in: Sport Coaches Handbook
Provided by: Human Kinetics
Setting clear goals helps coaches and athletes achieve success. Goals offer direction and purpose for our day-to-day activities; in addition, by providing tangible objectives, they enhance our motivation. Clear goals also help us determine whether we are going in the right direction at a given point in time.
Goals can be classified according to either their content or their time frame. In terms of content, they can be categorized as follows:
With regard to time frame, goals have traditionally been classified as either short-term (1 to 4 weeks), mid-term (4 weeks to 12 months), or long-term (12 months or more). Your own timing, of course, will depend on the duration for which you anticipate working with a particular group or athlete. In any case, athletes need both a long-term view of development and a sense of the milestones they need to hit at key times. At the same time, goal setting also requires review and adjustment due to the fact that progress tends to occur nonlinearly.
Effective goal setting requires the application of certain principles. Specifically, effective goals are specific, moderately difficult but realistic, applicable to both practice and competition, recorded, linked to achievement strategies or action plans, tailored to the athlete's personality and motivations, agreed with and owned by the athlete, and frequently evaluated. Goal setting failures often happen either because the athlete does not understand the process or because of insufficient planning and support for strategies that could enable success.