I was fortunate to play for several great coaches during my playing days. They all had many of the same characteristics and expectations for the players they coached. One of the projects all these great coaches had their players do was create and write down their goals. For student athlete’s this includes goals for the classroom as well as the playing field. In the classroom, if an athlete is continually on the bubble of being eligible or always scrambling to complete the required classwork/studying, it will affect their performance on the field. For example, let’s say you have a paper due the following day and you either haven’t started it or only have a small portion of it completed. If you have a night practice the night before due date, there is a high probability that thoughts of getting home to complete the paper will creep into your thoughts during practice. When this happens, you take yourself out of a position of attacking what’s directly in front of you. Being present in the moment without outside distractions will help athletes stay on a course of continual improvement.
Take time to think about the vision for your career and clarify what you really want. Follow the simple steps listed below and convert these thoughts into specific and measurable goals for the classroom and playing field. After listing these on paper review them regularly for optimal benefit. If you’re still on the fence about the importance of creating, listing, and reviewing your goals regularly, the example following the steps may change your mind.
1. Determine your vision and clarify what you really want to accomplish
Convert into specific and measurable goals
Specific - By when, a specific time/date. Be as specific as possible for best results. What are the things you must do that lead to the measurable (If you have a goal of 10 touchdowns during the season, what specific work/drills must you complete to prepare yourself?)
Measurable - Quantity, such as points, touchdowns, goals, innings pitched, etc.
2. Short/Mid/Long Term Goals
Short-Term Goals - Goals for the week or every two weeks that lead to your mid-term goals. Reaching and completing short term goals gives you the confidence to continue with your plan. This is why creating goals that are measurable is so important. If you never give yourself the satisfaction of completing a goal, continuing in your pursuit of the mid and long term goals will seem that much more daunting. For a running back, this may be the specific days & drills/strength work to be completed prior to the gradually increasing, higher intensity work to come in following weeks. For a pitcher, this may be the specific days & distances to be completed in your progressive throwing program leading up to the season.
Mid-Term Goals - Goals that may range from 3-6 months. These mid term goals are the cumulative effect of completing the short term goals.
Long-Term Goals - Goals that can take an entire year or longer to reach. These long term goals are the cumulative effect of completing the short term and mid term goals prior.
In working toward any big goal, you will eventually encounter adversity and roadblocks. This is not a sign to stop the pursuit of your goals. Learn to welcome adversity and roadblocks. Once you are aware of them you know what it is and are able to create a game plan moving forward. Attacking and overcoming roadblocks can become a great source of confidence moving forward, stretching your comfort zone allowing for continued improvement. When you encounter a roadblock, brainstorm 3 ways to approach and deal with roadblocks.
What will you need to do?
What new skills/techniques will you need to learn?
Who will you ask for assistance?
So why is being specific, writing your goals out on paper, and constantly reviewing them important? This study conducted by David Kohl, professor emeritus at Virginia Tech sums it up nicely:
80% of Americans report that they don't have goals. 16% say they have goals but don't write them down. Less than 4% take the time to write down their goals, and less than 1% review them regularly. This small percentage of Americans who write down their goals and review them regularly, earn 9 TIMES more over the course of their lifetimes than those who don't set goals.
Earn Respect Daily, Leave No Doubt