What is the Difference between an Individual and Team Goal?

A Goal is a term commonly used throughout many fields. Depending on the context, what makes up a goal can vary and be quite different. In a sporting context, goals can mean different things depending on the sport. Different sports, different programs, and different teams will all have their own way or organising, presenting and interpreting goals.


Goals can have a variety of different purposes. Some goals will be focused around the individual and others can be specific to the team.


Individual and Team Goals are equally important, but the content of these goals is what will make them useful or useless (Photo Source: Ding Yuin Shan)
Individual and Team Goals are equally important, but the content of these goals is what will make them useful or useless (Photo Source: Ding Yuin Shan)

Individual Goals are specific to the individual’s roles and responsibilities. In teams sports this is often revolving around their playing position within the team or what their strengths are. In some cases however, especially for junior athletes a weakness might be the focus of their goals. An example of a junior individual goal could be that a basketball player “must attempt to make a left hand lay-up when on the left hand side of the basket”.


For those athletes involved in individual sports goals will be very similar, but these will tend to be not only focused on technical skills, but tactical strategy as well. While the above example focused on a technical skill for the improvement of the players overall skills set. In an individual sport the player’s knowledge about the tactics and strategy has to be that much more significant because they only have themselves to rely upon. Therefore, an example of tactical goal for a 400 metre runner might be “increase speed of strides from a count of one to half a count”. A technical goal for this same example might be “ensure knees a raised to height of hips during each stride”.


Team Goals are related to those strategies that are pivotal to the team’s success. Goals in these situations might be related to a particular tactical philosophy or style of play the team implements to achieve a successful outcome. For example in basketball, many teams adopt a specific style of play on offense. In these situations, a team uses a collection of plays or principles of play that are specific to a certain type of offense to be their main strategy in generating offense. There are many different types of offensive strategies or systems and just a few are the Flex, Princeton, UCLA, Shuffle, and Motion Offense. One goal for example of a team implementing the Flex Offense might be “ to always rub shoulders when using the Flex Screen so defenders cannot slip through the screen”.


Individual and Team Goals play a very significant part in the preparation for many sports people in centring their focus. Goals help highlight what is important and what is significant to success during the competition. For any player this point is very important. During every team training session, and every individual training session there is a multitude of information discussed by a coach and an athlete. The sheer volume of this information can become very hard for a player to work through and determine what they should be focusing on. By implementing goals, the important points are clearly communicated and identified which in turn helps the performance of the individual because they have a clear pathway to success.

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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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