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From Director of Coaching Joanna Tucker

GOAL Setting for Sport

Joanna Tucker

You will often find that successful people are goal-driven. This is true whether they are in sport, business, music, the arts or any number of other areas.

Goal setting is one of the most important skills taught to athletes in order to help them achieve optimal performance. The goal-setting process helps athletes understand where they are currently and where they want to go. Goal setting is also one of the best methods for increasing motivation. By setting a target you become much more motivated and committed to achieving it. This is because without the goal, you do not really have anything to work towards.  For youth especially, goal setting allows players to take ownership and control over their sports experience while also allowing them to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses on their own and monitor their progress during the season. 

DYSA strongly believes that goal setting is an integral part of the whole with both the Coach’s viewpoints for the team and the Player’s outlook for individual growth and overall success.  Throughout all age groups, our coaches are entering this Spring season with specific goals for their teams based on DYSA’s age group exit standards and each individual teams’ needs.  Additionally, each coach has developed personal goals related to their role as a coach and how they can better themselves as a leader and role model. 

All DYSA players will hear their Coach’s goals for the team during the first training session and will be revisiting them throughout the season at each practice.  Players will also be asked to set goals for the upcoming season using the SMART goal format. SMART goals help identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, barriers and areas for improvement while providing objective and precise guidelines for carrying out each action.  Players can set many different goals beyond just improving their performance or scoring goals. Athletes can set practice goals, mental game goals, fitness and conditioning goals, as well as nutrition goals.

Translating a broad goal into a specific goal can be done using the SMART GOAL format.  Players often start with a general statement such as “I want to be better at shooting”. This subjective goal is a starting point for clarifying what a player wants to address, however, it does not state specifically what the player is trying to achieve. What is “better shooting”? A subjective goal states what a player would like to be better at, however, it does not provide a clear target for how much better they wish to be.  For goal setting to be effective, then, players need to set objective goals. Objective goals are specific and measurable statements of what we want to achieve. By being clear on what it is we are aiming for, we are able to identify what we need to do to actually get there. Below are some examples of how we could take a subjective goal and turn it into objective goals:

SUBJECTIVE GOAL:  “I want to be better at shooting”

SMART Objective Goal:  “I want to increase my shooting accuracy to 85%”

SMART Objective Goal:  “I want to score at least 4 goals with my left foot during the Spring season”

SMART Objective Goal:  “I want to spend 30 minutes practicing shooting before each training session”

SMART Objective Goal:  “I want to take at least 3 shots per game”

Once initial goals are set, it is important that athletes see these goals as general guidelines that should be continually evaluated and adapted to be most effective.  These adjustments are a part of growth and can be reviewed by the player, the coach and the player, or the coach, player, and parents.  

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