People (including those of us at KPB) are always telling athletes to set goals as a way to succeed. Having goals can make a big difference, but not all goals are alike. For example, a goal to “get more wins next season” isn’t likely help you do that. How do you make goals that really matter?
Goals that matter must help you see where you want to go and how far you’ve come. They need to be real and relevant, they need to be challenging, and they need to come from YOU.
If you really want to improve your skills, you should to use a mix of goals including process goals and performance goals. Process goals are about the work you need do to improve your performance. For example, you might have a goal about working more often on changing your release point. Performance goals are about the changes you want to see in your skill level. For example, you might have a goal to change the percentage of first pitch strikes that you throw.
While you might want to set outcome goals (like getting 10 wins in the season), baseball is a team sport and lots of things can happen during a game that you have no control over. So, you might get those first pitch strikes and strike out 10 but still lose the game. Outcomes are important but when you set goals, you need to focus on the parts of the game that you can control.
When you are setting process or performance goals, you want them to be SMART goals. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-limited.
A SMART process goal might look like this:
I will work on my new release point for 30 minutes after practice for at least 3 days per week for the next 6 weeks.
A SMART performance goal might look like this:
By the end of the summer, I will get a bunt down to advance the runner 7 out of 10 tries.
Most coaches will tell you that you should write down your goals and put them up where you will see them every day. That way, you’ll be reminded about what you are trying to do. Goals can keep you going in the right direction even when you’re busy, tired, or distracted.
Goals that matter are realistic but not easy for you to achieve. As athletes, most things that matter to us take work and you want to make sure you push yourself. Of course, impossible goals don’t help anyone. If you’re not sure if your goals are realistic, talk to your coach to see if you’re on the right track. But remember, to really matter, your goals need to come from you. Or, at the very least, you have to completely agree with any goals that your coach has set for you or your team. Goals that matter work from the inside out.
Get to work!