As a coach, team and individual goal setting has become one of the more common phrases thrown around the discussion table when discussion planning, performance and outcomes. Linking players to goals they need to perform at their best has become standard practice for many coaches within their teams and can be broken down further to individual goals.
Most people because of the use of goal setting in business and management environments understand what goal setting is. But what is less widely discussed is why these are important. Setting goals helps establish a target. It is this target that helps us often focus on a specific task. This improves concentration and the ability to isolate what it is we are doing from all the other tasks that need to be done. As an example, a coach might speak to a team about five points prior to a game of basketball which will lead to the teams overall success. The coach however might hand out specific assignments to each player which will help the team achieve success as well. For a player this scenario can become confusing as they can become overwhelmed by information overload and not focus on their specific assignment.
So what is the importance of goal setting? Individual Goal Setting allows a person to have something in the future to aim towards. This is a powerful mental technique as it often (even with no additional support then just establishing the goal) will increase the performance of the player. The is because when there is something out in front we tend to focus on the goal ahead of us, rather than the effort needed to get there.
Additionally, when done in a supportive and mature way individual goal setting can be an opportunity for a coach and their players to develop trust and a positive repour. The process can start with evaluating the players current situation (within the team and individually) and leads into a reflective and honest discussion about what needs to happen to meet the needs of the team and the player’s development schedule.
Goal setting can mean different things to different people. For coaches this is something we would have all noticed from working with various coaches and seeing how they set about creating and measuring these goals. There is a basic principle however to help with your development of goals. It is called the SMART Principle. The SMART Principle asks that all your goals, objectives and targets are:
- Time bound
By following the SMART principle it is hope your goals are most importantly able to be measured. Measurement of your goals is the key when determining if you have been successful or not. Without being able to measure your goals that are both for you as the coach and the individual player, they become worthless. When goals are measured they become real, because the player can be made accountable to a specific target.
The task on individual goal setting can be tremendously rewarding and is an excellent way of having younger athletes especially focus on process goals (focused on the individual’s performance and what they achieved) rather than outcome goals (like winning or losing). It is crucial during the development of these goals to ensure the player has input into what all of these goals entail. By doing this the coach will be able to gain consensus from the athlete on what goals are needed in the best interests for the team and the individuals.
The skill for the coach during this process is constructing the individual goals of the player to meet the needs of the team without pushing these onto the player or making the agenda of the coach overpower the wants of the player. When players play for a coach they will give you their best when they play with their own interests satisfied.