Let’s start with defining what goal setting is, “a mental training skill that can be used to increase an athlete’s commitment towards achieving a goal.” Pretty simpel sin’t it? This very simple skill is critical for us athletes to help ourselves achieve optimal performance.
By setting correct goals, communication and motivation will automatically increase, and the athletes’ satisfaction within their sport will increase. Not only will their confidence and morals progress, but a measurable success will be guaranteed. Now the real question is whether this theory truly works? However, it’s important to keep in mind that S.M.A.R.T was developed to emphasize the importance of the relationship between goals and performance.
S.M.A.R.T goal setting strategy indicates that the importance of goal-setting on athletic performance is so significant because of its consistency and magnitude. The strategy is beyond excellent because of the strong correlation between goal-setting and performance improvement. Many studies (almost 100% of the studies I have read) have shown just that, which is why I want to share it with you.
Now you are probably wondering what S.M.A.R.T stands for and how setting up a goal will help rather than destroy you as an athlete, so let’s get to it.
S – Specific – Specific goals are more effective in improving performance than the general goals or no goals at all. For example, I want to make 80% of my free throws every game and 85% every practice.
M– Measurable – The goals have to be measurable, the athlete has to know if there is progress made/attained by changing or adding a certain technique. For example, I want to take one more rebound every quarter and in order to do so I have to box out my player every single time. My coach will count or I will go back and watch the game myself and count every time I box out my player and out of those box outs how many rebounds I grab.
A – Attainable – You need to be able to adapt to changes and alter the goals, injuries and sickness can occur as well as many other uncontrollable variables. Goals are set on paper and can be redefined and changed. For example, your goal is to run the beep test for 12 minutes in three weeks but you pulled your hamstring one week ago so maybe the goal now is to make 20 strict push-ups and be able to jog for 5 minutes without pain in three weeks.
R – Relevant – Break down the big goal into smaller moderately difficult goals to produce a better performance. The higher the goal, the higher the performance much be, but be honest and realistic with yourself as an athlete when setting goals. For example, your goal is to dunk next season, you’re on the way but you have 20 cm to get all the way up to the rim. It is possible to make the goal, but it won’t be easy.
T – Time Based – Deadlines serve as a time-control mechanism and can increase the motivation and focus of the athlete. For example, my goal is to make 20 threes from five positions in less than 10 minutes. Knowing that it takes me 11 minutes to make it right now the goal is possible but it won’t be easy.
To conclude this blog post I want to say that studies have shown and support that the most effective performance seems to result when goals are: S.M.A.R.T, challenging, involve feedback on results, and allow for positive recognition. So, until next week, look at the goals you have set up right now and be honest with yourself. Follow the S.M.A.R.T strategy and tweak a few things if needed.