Setting goals is one of the most effective ways to motivate an athlete. Goals provide a sense of direction while increasing effort and quality of performance. Teams and endurance athletes alike must choose goals carefully to follow a path towards success. I joined up with Trish Oberhaus, our team sports specialist, to provide a useful guide for setting S.M.A.R.T. goals in athletics.
1. Specific: These goals are most clearly defined by the five “W” questions: who, what, where, when, why? The answers to these questions will begin to bring your goals into focus.
2. Measurable: By establishing a system for measuring progress toward each goal you set, you will increase motivation by experiencing a sense of achievement when reaching the smaller incremental goals along the way. To prevent ambiguity and vagueness, make sure to incorporate an assessable time frame allowing you to carry out those steps and feel successful.
3. Attainable: Once goals are identified and specific increments are achieved, the larger goals that used to seem far away begin to grow closer as you grow as a person. It's truly amazing how one begins to figure out ways to make goals become reality. Previously overlooked opportunities manifest themselves and bring you closer to attaining your goals, all the while, new attitudes, abilities, skills and strategies develop to help you to reach them.
4. Realistic: By truly believing that your goal can be accomplished, your target will be realistic. This is something that you and you alone must decide. Be sure to set each goal so it represents ample growth. By following these guidelines, higher goals often prove easier to reach than lower goals, because lower goals produce a lower level of motivational energy.
5. Timely: Goals should be set with a starting point, ending point and fixed intervals along the way. This will perpetuate a sense of urgency for you to act as target dates approach. Goals without deadlines tend to fade in importance and fall in rank of priority where less commitment is established.
No matter what skill level, goals that follow this outline will facilitate the growth of the athlete. Experiencing incremental progress during the journey toward your dreams and desires provides a steady reward that has the power to maintain motivation--as long as you keep in mind what you want to accomplish and how you plan to get there.