With the beginning of the school year, many coaches are back to work with their teams and setting their next season’s goals. With this in mind, I decided to share a few tips on goal setting for coaches. To start, read this post to learn the basics of goal setting.
After reading about the process of setting goals on that post, you will know that you want to:
- Start with long-term goals and work back to short-term goals that help you achieve the long-term ones
- Involve your team in setting the goals so they are more committed and understand the process
- Set not only outcomes goals (results) but also performance and process goals
- Use SMART goals, so you know if you reached your goal or not
Now here are some specific tips that coaches must also know:
- The best starting point is last season. If you want to win the conference that you didn’t win last year, what improvement could make you win it this time? It could be technical, tactical, and/or psychological. Try to identify 2-3 big things you want to work on and set SMART long-term goals for them. Then set the short-term goals that will help you achieve these long-term goals by the end of the season.
- Help your team set process goals for practice. To achieve better performance, you have to change the process (usually a technical improvement, but it also could be “using deep breathing when I am overaroused”). The best way to improve the process is by setting practice goals focused on this improvement. Remember to tell your athletes that their goals must be SMART, so they know if they achieved them or not.
- Remember to recognize their progress towards these goals. Many coaches simply forget to revisit the goals and/or do not provide any recognition for the improvement. The whole point of setting goals is directing behaviors and motivating people to keep pushing. If there’s no recognition, athletes may think it’s not important or may not realize how much they have improved, which defeats the purpose of goal setting. Even small things can work, like a board of achieved goals and a team celebration/dinner/fun drill when the team reaches a certain standard.
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