I hesitate to re-run information that has been included in a previous post, but it has been a very long time since this information was presented, and this blog has about 10 times the readership it did when I first posted information about goal setting. Plus, heading into Fall camp might be a good time to visit, or revisit this information.
My former players often share with me how much the goal setting process that they went though as a player in our program not only helped them in their collegiate career, but in their life after football. We would complete this process with our players a couple of times a year. I believe going through these steps is what made a lasting impression on our athletes. Like anything else, the more you do something, the easier it becomes, and eventually develops into a habit.
At the beginning of the goal setting process, we ask our athletes to think about their goals, not only in their sport, but also academic, and life goals. We asked them to keep those goals in mind as we go through the parameters of what constitutes a good goal.
The discussion begins by differentiating between short-term and long-range goals. Typically, we defined short-term goals as the period covering the next 3-6 months, or their next competitive season. We asked our student-athletes to think in the 2-4 year time frame for their long-range goals.
We use the SMART mnemonic device for 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.
I keep one copy of their goal card, which I often use in discussions with them over the course of their career. It becomes very easy to congratulate an athlete when they have reached a particular goal, which moves to additional discussion regarding setting new goals. It is also easy to use their goal card (and their goals) as a reminder regarding the type of work they need to be putting in to reach 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. As mentioned above, they will keep one copy, putting it where they will see it daily, and give one copy for me to keep on file.
For more goal setting information, you can read these posts:
Thanks for reading!
Questions or Comments are always welcomed!
Jeff Floyd – firstname.lastname@example.org