Are you helping the athletes you work with set goals? If not you might be missing an important opportunity. A paper from Robert Weinberg at Miami University of Ohio looks at the research surrounding goal setting in sports and some practical ways to do it. It’s worth the read. You can check it out here.
What caught my attention were the benefits he listed.
Players who focus on process or performance goals experience
1. Less anxiety
2. More confidence
3. Greater satisfaction and concentration
4. Improved performance
According to Weinberg the research shows that goals are effective because
1. They direct and focus our attention
2.They help us mobilize effort
3. They enhance our persistence – help us stick to it
4. We develop new learning strategies – we learn to adjust, adapt and make progress
Too often in youth sports we either assume the goals are apparent and that every kid wants the same thing or we just assign them to the players. We’re missing a great opportunity. A goal is really just the aim of an action. It’s easy to generate lots of activity. But without an aim it’s unlikely I’ll hit the target. Helping players set goals empowers them by teaching them how to chose their target, set their sights, take their best shot, and then learn, adjust and stick to it. I think we call those life lessons.
I’ve started taking a deeper dive into the goal setting process with our 15 – 20 year old athletes and here is what I’m finding. What’s good for the players is good for me as a coach. I experience the same benefits: less anxiety, more confidence, greater satisfaction and focus and I do a better job of helping them meet their goals. In addition, clear goals are helping me zero in, increase my energy, be patient with the process and be more creative in adapting to new challenges. That seems good because one of my goals is always to become a better coach.
As the Masters is upon us here is a glimpse into the power of a goal.