Goal Setting for Sport
By: Kevin Clancy
In sport, everyone is a dreamer. We have all thought about what it would be like to get the winning score in an All-Ireland Final, to sink the winning putt at a golf major, or to run the perfect race at the Olympic Games. We have all thought about these things but how many of us have actually planned out a course to make our dreams become reality? As the highly regarded Sports Psychologist Dan Gould says “dreams drive the goal, but a foot in reality makes them happen”.
Michael Johnson, the gold medal winning American sprinter, had the dream of becoming the best track and field athlete in the world when he was in his late teens in college. This was a pretty lofty ambition, particularly in light of the fact that, although he was regarded as being a very good athlete, he was by no means viewed as exceptional during his college years. What set Johnson apart, however, was how he planned and turned this dream into reality. The first thing he did was write down his goal, exactly what he wanted to achieve. A goal does not exist until it is written down. If it is just in your head then it is not a goal, it is merely a thought you are having. The next step he took was to break the goal down. He then set annual, bi-annual, quarterly, monthly, weekly and even daily targets to keep him on track for his final destination.
Setting long, medium and short term goals in this manner has a number of benefits. It focuses the mind on what is important. It reminds you of why you are doing something and can serve as a big motivator during the times when things are not going in your favor. And it can also act as a means of measuring confidence. Keeping records of your goals provides you with clear evidence of the progress you are making. It fuels your self-belief and ensures that you re doing all in your power to get the most out of yourself.
Why don’t you follow these three key principles for setting effective goals today:
1. Decide on what your long term goal is and WRITE IT DOWN!
2. Break it down into medium and short term components. If your long-term goal is set for twelve months time, then set out where you would like to be in six months, three months, this month and then this week. Think then about what do you need to do now, today, in order to take a step towards your ambition. Again, keep records of everything.
3. Follow the SPOT principle when setting your targets. Make them Specific and Significant – make sure that the specific target you are working towards is something that excites and motivates you. Ensure that the goals you set are always Positive. Focus on what you want to achieve and not what you want to avoid doing. Your goals should always be Observable. In other words, you should be able to measure progress. A goal for a rugby place kicker of “I want to have an 80% success rate in kicks at goal within forty meters of the posts” is far more effective then “I want to improve my place kicking”. Make sure your goals are Timed. Decide when you would like to have your goals achieved by. This serves the dual purpose of keeping you focussed on what is important and also places the onus on you to do the work necessary to get the most from yourself.