Process Goals vs. Outcome Goals

As a coach, Setting Goals is one of the core aspects of player management, motivation and focus that is of high priority. Having the right process goal, for the right individual, at the right time however needs some practice in achieving the right outcome. Knowing what types of goals that are available for you to utilise as a coach will help provide you with a variety of options and different tools in dealing with the numerous situations you will face in goal setting within the team environment.


The focus of goals can be broken down into two types. These are process goals and outcome goals. Contrary to popular opinion, both types of goals have their place and both can provide good results if utilised in the right way.


Process Goals are goals that focus on the development that a player or athlete goes through to achieve an activity. A process goal is the more popular type of goal for children and developing players to utilise for making and selection appropriate goals. This is why it is more popularly talked about in regards to literature. As often articles are written from the perspective of junior coaches.


An example goal for a junior athlete might look like asking the player to lay-up with their left hand on the left-hand side of the basket. This could be a typical example where a player is asked to attempt to utilise a skill that they have been practicing, but may not have used in a game situation before. This is why process goals are fantastic for providing focus to the players in the younger age groups as it helps them see what they need to be working on and the progressing towards this goal.


Working Together Teamwork Puzzle Concept
Goals help Everyone see their part in the Team (Photo credit: lumaxart)

Process goals can also be strongly linked with the principles of players or athletes only being able to control what they are directly responsible for. This again adds to the case for this type of goals being the one of choice for young and developing basketball players.


Outcome Goals are those targets set around the outcome of an activity. These types of goals for instance might be focused on a player have a target number of rebounds for a game or taking a certain number of shots form a set position on the floor. This type of goal whether it is admitted to or not by a player will add pressure to them mentally. This is especially the case if the player is underperforming.


Outcome goals can be useful for setting more specific goals for a player, but these targets need to be reasonable and attainable for the ability of the player. Outcome goals are best to be used with experienced players that have the maturity to be able to deal with disappointment or unsuccessful results in a constructive and positive manner. If the player is too young or does not have the resilience to be able to cope with not achieving their goals they might become un-motivated.


So how do you know when a player is ready to move from process goals exclusively to incorporating some outcome based goals as well? The simple answer is for some players the development of this resilience can be slow to take hold. Some players will also have a lack of history in identifying and using goal setting in a constructive way. For these players extra time and patience will need to be given to allow for the player to progress up to an acceptable standard.


As a coach work to allow your player’s an opportunity to take part in the goal setting process. By doing this players will have a stronger feeling of ownership over the gaols set. Goal setting is a skill not only for the sports realm, but also a skill for life.

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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