It is important to recognize that goals can create a direction and a focus. Goal setting, as a performance psychology skill, will help you as a student-athlete to channel your energy to perform consistently at a high level.
As goals can direct your behavior, they help you work effectively to improve your skills as an athlete. Below are some of the key strategies to remember when doing goal setting as a mental skill:
Set outcome, performance and process goals.
Outcome goals: The result of the contest between teams (beating someone).
Performance goals: Improvements relative to your own past performance (improving your time in the mile).
Process goals: The procedures that you will do during your performance (a runner focusing on lengthening their stride).
Make goals specific. For example, "run faster" is not an optimal goal, as it is vague and unclear. A more specific goal would be "run a mile in 7mins".
Keep goals flexible. When your performance level is either higher or lower than you expected, be able to revise your goals so that they are challenging. If every time you run, your time is where you want it, revise your goal by adding something challenging like a hill workout.
Set goals for practice and competition.
Keep goals stated in positive terms. For example, state your goal as "I will do a training run for 1 mile", instead of "Don’t stop before a mile is completed."
Write your goals down and keep them where they will be seen. It is important to keep a notebook or index card where you can review and evaluate your goals daily or weekly while training.
Start with your Final Goal (Outcome) Choose an event and pick a challenging, but not impossible outcome goal (e.g. score, win, pass the prt in 10:20 etc.). Write that goal down in the space below.
Move from Outcome to Performance Tasks How do you intend to achieve the goal above? That is, what are the specific tasks that you must achieve first before you can reach the final goal? Assess your strengths and weaknesses as an athlete, so you know how you will be able to specifically contribute to your desired outcome (e.g. using your good communications skills to improve execution of difficult plays) . List below three specific behaviors you have control over that will lead you to your final goal. For example, an athlete knows that in order to win games, the team has to be in optimal physical fitness; therefore, setting specific fitness goals is a specific task-related behavior.
List your three specific tasks below:
Focusing on the Performance Tasks What do you have control over that will help you achieve the three task goals above? This step helps to gain focus and control. So in the space below, list two specific behaviors that you have control over to help with your task goals (e.g. setting aside 5 mins/day to review goals, incorporating certain exercises into your fitness plan).
Being Active with Goal Setting as a Performance Psychology Skill In order to maintain your focus with goals and the goal setting process, I encourage clients to maintain a "mental training log". By writing down your goals, you are more likely to commit to them and assess them. Keep them in a visible place.