“Do you still talk to your players about goal setting and have them fill out the cards like you had us do? That helped me as much as anything we did.”
I had to admit to myself that yes, while I talked to them about setting goals, I had not spent the time going through the process that I should have. This week I made up for that and had the discussion with the 120 students in my Advanced Strength and Conditioning class for Athletes.
I asked the students to think about their goals, not only in this class and the sport they participate in, but also academic, and life goals. I asked them to keep those goals in mind as we went through the parameters of what constitutes a good goal.
I begin the discussion differentiating between short-term and long-range goals. For our purposes in class, short-term goals were defined as the period covering the next 3-6 months, or their next competitive season. I asked the student-athletes to think in the 2-4 year time frame for their long-range goals.
We use the SMART mnemonic device for to begin setting these parameters.
- S – Specific
- M – Measurable
- A – Ambitious
- R – Realistic
- T – Time specific
Here are some examples of each attribute.
- Specific – The goal should not be general, vague or nebulous. Instead of “I want to be a good football player”, focus on the skills that you can develop that will make you a good football player. Maybe it is running a 4.8 40 yard dash if you are a defensive lineman, or having a 70% completion percentage if you are a QB
- Measurable – Instead of “I want to knock it out of the park my senior basketball season” what factors can be measured that will enable me to have a stellar senior year. It might be averaging 10 points and 10 rebounds a game, or a free throw percentage of 90%
- Ambitious – Set “Stretch” Goals. If your hang clean max is already 225 pounds, then setting a goal of 230 before next season is not a stretch. Setting ambitious goals will force you to ramp up your work habits.
- Realistic – This is the flip side of Ambitious. You want to set your goals within reasonable reach, or you are inviting frustration. If you currently run a 5.2 40 yard dash, then setting a goal of running a 4.2 next season is probably not realistic.
- Time specific – Time stamp your goals – this will impose a sense of urgency, and eliminate just drifting aimlessly. Instead of “I want to be in the 1000 pound club”, set a time for completion – “I want to be in the 1000 pound club by next July.”
In addition to the SMART attributes we also talk about these additional tips.
- State each goal as a positive statement. The power of positive thought is amazing. Give your brain something positive to digest. Instead of “I don’t want to jump off-sides any next season”, state it as “I will fire off the ball on the correct snap count 100% of the time next season.”
- Set performance goals, not outcome goals. Try to set goals regarding things you have control over – “I want to average 100 yards rushing a game”, might be a better goal than “I want to make All-Conference Running Back”
- Write goals down. This is the next step for us – and what we will end up doing after discussing good goal attributes. Writing their goals down gives it importance… permanence. I liken it to making a contract with themselves. The student-athletes get two cards (connected and pre printed). On the front of the card are blanks to record 3 short-term and 3 long-range goals along with their name. On the back of the card we have printed these goal setting tips. They will keep one, and turn one card into me.
- Put the card where you will see it DAILY. I suggest putting their copy on the bathroom mirror, where they will see it every morning. It is a reminder of their contract and serves as motivation to do the work needed to achieve those goals.
Here is a link to the Goal Card we use.
It is a Word Document, so you can download it and make any changes to suit your needs. It prints 4 to a sheet and fits on Avery 8387 postcard paper. We then split it in two, giving two cards to each student-athlete to fill out.
Tomorrow – Hang Clean coaching points and video.
Any Questions – Just Comment or Email
Jeff Floyd – email@example.com