As a coach, you need to have a strategic plan to help your students achieve their desired level of performance and personal goals.

Each year, you should ask them “What are your goals for this season?” If players haven’t taken the time to set them, there is a good chance they will be beaten by someone who has. Goal setting is a very common practice among winners. We are going to take a quick snap shot of goal setting, why it works for some and not for others. Then I will walk you through a goal setting system that works.

Goal setting is not easy to do, why? Firstly, there are two common methods that most people attempt and neither of them works:

  • Realistic Goal Setting;
  • Big-Sky Goals.

People often believe you should always obtain your goals, so they try to set realistic goals. For example, golfers will look at what they did last year and simply say “I want to lower my scoring a bit.” Sounds good and easy enough, but setting the bar too low can be detrimental for athletes. I don’t know a single world champion or Olympic Gold Medalist that used this method successfully. There is nothing realistic (or easy) about winning a world championship, earning an Olympic Gold Medal, setting a world record or reaching a dominant status in your sport.

Setting big goals can seem more irrational than realistic. But far too often I see players fail to challenge themselves and choosing to select realistic or easy goals. Doing this, athletes get beaten so often that they soon begin to doubt the system and abandon it. Selecting vague goals is another version of this. “I want to be more consistent this year…” In this case, what does consistent mean? The golfer has to have a clear and well thought out meaning of what “consistency” is to them and how it’s defined.

Let’s talk about the other system, the Big-Sky Goals. The advantage of this system is that there are no upward limits. For example, “My goal is to win every competition this year, while breaking all the records and beating everyone.” That does sound great, who wouldn’t want to have a year like that? However, if your students look to the Big Sky they will most likely miss their goal.

The natural train of thought would be, “If realistic goals are often too small, and Big-Sky goals are too large, the sweet spot must be somewhere in the middle.” While you’re onto something, that’s not necessarily the most advantageous way to set goals.

Most athletes (across all sports) who achieve peak performance don’t really try to predict or project when they’ll have their best showings. Why? The ultra elite are not thinking about outcome, but rather relying on the performance systems they’ve put in place to help them compete.

That’s really where things can go wrong with the two goal systems we discussed previously. Too often, the athlete resorts to setting an outcome when they select a goal. The focus is on score or winning the competition, when it should be on the process of obtaining a score that could win or achieve the highest finish their ability allows. Elite athletes take their mind off of the score and focus on the process/system of performing well. Because those are the elements they alone can control. The best athletes know they cannot control what it will take to win a competition, but they can control the process/system they use to prepare and compete. And their goals reflect that.

Winning has varying degrees. It’s more than just a way to measure an outcome. It also reflects who the person (or athlete) has become. It’s a mirror to life. A snapshot of who the player is, as well as how they can perform. We compete on the field as we compete in life, and ultimately our desire is to do everything we can to become a life champion.



Determine a goal worth trading your time for – For perspective, Olympians set goals worth trading their “life” for.


Decide when you want it – You must set the exact date and time you want to accomplish this goal. This helps you formulate a plan to achieve it.


List the pay value – Why do you want this goal? List all the reasons that achieving this goal is important to you. Make sure you set a goal that’s big enough to be life/performance changing.


Honestly evaluate the obstacles in your way– You must be very specific about your obstacles. If you don’t list all the obstacles that you need to manage to accomplish your goal, they will turn into barriers. Barriers will keep you from accomplishing your goals, but you can overcome an obstacle.


What is your plan to get your goal – Goals with a written plan have a much better chance of being reached.


Evaluate your plan before you proceed – Ask questions of yourself. Do I believe my plan will work? Do I believe I can work the plan? Is the prize worth the price? This is the most important step in the goal-setting process. Ask yourself, “Is the pay-value worth the price I have to pay for it?”


Schedule your plan – Scheduling is a vital art of the planning process. Put your plans on a calendar.


Start Now! – You are ready to go. Begin right away and don’t hesitate.


Prior to reaching your goal always set a new one to takes its place. –This will keep you on track and accomplishing greater things and elevating your performance.


Hold on to the end of trade up – Do not be surprised if on your way to one goal, you discover another. But never give up – trade up! Finish the first goal and then move on to the next.

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