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Setting Goals Effectively

July 2016, my goal was to qualify and compete at Canadian Nationals.

As the year is coming to an end, I wanted to provide insight on how to set goals effectively to prepare you for the 2021 season. Goal setting is a simple task that anyone can do. It allows you to see where you currently are, and where you want to go! As an athlete, goal setting is an important skill that will positively affect your performance.

Many of you are familiar with SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time Bound) goals, an acronym that is well known for helping people plan and achieve their goals. Though there is nothing wrong with this acronym, in regard to Sport Psychology, SMARTS (Specific, Measurable, Action Oriented, Realistic, Timely, and Self-Determined) goals are used. SMARTS goals are effective for achieving an increase in motivation.

Understanding SMARTS Goals:

The S stands for Specific- “What is the goal you are trying to achieve?” Creating specific goals is important for increasing your performance.

Example: I want to improve my vertical by 2 inches for next month’s testing.

The M stands for Measurable-“Is there a way to track your progress?” Allowing yourself to obtain feedback on your progress will help you stay motivated and on track to achieving your goal. If you are not receiving the progress you hoped for, you can always re-evaluate.

Example: I will record my previous vertical heights in a notebook to chart my progress.

The A stands for Action-Oriented- “What steps can you take to achieve your goal?” Often, athletes create goals without thinking about how they will achieve them. Ensuring that you have a set plan to reach your goal is crucial.

Example: I will continue to work hard in the weight room during practice to increase my strength and power.

The R stands for Realistic- “Is the goal within your reach?” Please avoid setting goals that go above and beyond your capabilities. Ideally, you want to set goals that are challenging, but are still achievable with consistent effort.

Example: I have been increasing my vertical by 1 inch monthly, so increasing by 2 inches will be a doable challenge.

The T stands for Timely-“Can the goal be completed in a reasonable time?” Every goal needs to have a timeline. This will allow you to stay focused, persistent, and on track.

Example: I will complete this goal within the next month.

The S stands for Self-Determined- “Is this goal something YOU really want to accomplish?” Self-determined is the most important part of SMARTS goals. Athletes tend to make goals for exterior factors such as their coaches, family members, and/or peers, because they seek validation. Remember that you are setting goals that relate only to your needs!

Example: Increasing my vertical will help me improve my game on the court.

Goals are always a starting place, not an ending place. Take the time to really think about the goals you want to achieve for 2021. Understand that you may not always be successful with your goals, but that is why re-evaluating when needed is crucial. Be true to yourself and what you know you can achieve.

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