Difference between Short, Medium and Long Term Goals

Goal Setting is an activity that many coaches undertaken with their teams to try to set a point in the horizon for individuals and the team to work towards. Setting targets if completed properly can lead to increased performance and the ability to monitor and evaluate a program on a number of different levels.


When undertaking this type of exercise it is important to realise there are three categories goals, targets or Kep Performance Indicators (KPI’s) can be utilised within. These are short, medium, and long-term goals. The exact length of time for each target depends on the overall length of time a program is in operation for. For example, if a program ran for six months, then the long-term goals would be built around a six-month period. Medium term goals could be up to a month in length with short-term goal being based on weekly stages.

Goal Setting Helps Unlock the Potential of Your Players and Team (Source: ~Brenda-Starr~)
Goal Setting Helps Unlock the Potential of Your Players and Team (Photo Source: Brenda-Starr)

Short-term targets or KPI’s should build up to achieving what the desire medium term goals are. These medium term goals once cumulated, should then attain the long-term objectives. By structuring the ambitions of an individual or team in this way, they will link together and make often complicated or significantly larger goals more manageable and easier to plan in achieving.


Another important aspect is for goals to have the SMART Principle applied to them to give them meaning. The SMART Principle is:






Time Bound


The SMART Principle forms a very important set of considerations in designing goals as it helps the end content of a goal to be more meaningful and individualised. For example, a goal which has not had the smart principle applied might look like this:


Players will make time each week to shoot some shots outside of practice


If we take the same topic of the goal and apply the smart principle, this is the result:


Bill will shoot five hundred shots each week for the remainder of the season outside of team practice sessions


The difference is in the second goal there is a clear and very specific task to be completed within a define time line.


Short Term Goals should be developed with a finite amount of time in mind. These goals should be the easiest to achieve in regards to minimal time allocated to the task. This may include for instance an individual player aiming to improve their road running time over three kilometres by five seconds each week. This goal during seasonal competition can then be aimed for each week and achieved within this time.


Medium Term Goals should be the result of an individual/team achieving or completing a task because of consistently satisfying the requirements of their short-term goals. An example of a medium term goal for the individual in our earlier referenced running scenario might be that the player increases the distance to four kilometres at the end of the first months training.


Like with the cumulative effect of the short-term goals leading to the completion of a medium-term goal, so too when a series of medium-term goals are completed then a Long Term Goal should be satisfied. Continuing with our example of the players running efforts, by the end of the season the player will be aiming to be running a total distance of eight kilometres.


Goals’ setting is a valuable tool once it is implemented properly and with purpose. By building goal setting into your team’s activities players will be able to better identify what is expected of them from the team. Additionally as a coach, you will also be able to remind players or teams of their responsibility and commitment to the team goals and hold the individual/team accountable to these.

Coach Riches has been working within the sport, business and education industries for many years. During this time he has built an extensive number of formal and informal qualifications. A firm believer in training and development designed to help people reach their full potential, relevant o their needs and functional to their industry environment.

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