The reason most people never reach their goals is that they don’t define them, or ever seriously consider them as believable or achievable. Winners can tell you where they are going, what they plan to do along the way, and who will be sharing the adventure with them. -Denis Watley
Since it’s still January it’s not to late to set resolutions for the new year. With lacrosse season around the corner, now is a great time to set your goals for the upcoming spring season and also for the summer and the rest of your athletic future.
According to research, athletes can improve their performance by 8-16 percent just by setting goals. To a large degree your desire and beliefs will determine how far you will go in sports. With proper goal-setting you can lock on to your goals and keep your self confidence and enthusiasm levels high. Goal Setting is vital to your effective development as an athlete. Goal Setting principles should be applied to your athletics, as well as other arenas of your life, such as athletics and even your college admissions process.
Many of us may have already set goals. Well, lets look them over again, and really hash them out. Your task in this exercise is not just to set goals, but to set the correct goals that will influence your behavior. If you’re already proficient in setting goals, than you should be able to tell yourself exactly what you want, how you will know you have it, what’s stopping you from getting it, and all of the necessary steps to achieve it.
The acronym sports psychologists use for Goal Setting is SMART:
Let us quickly walk through and define each stage of this acronym.
Specific: Choosing and Defining Your Goal
Your goals should stem from your inner dreams and aspirations for yourself. Erase any limitation you have placed on yourself; negative beliefs will cripple your progress as an athlete. If you have a negative belief about your potential, then ask yourself, “what irrefutable evidence exists that this belief is true?” The answer is most likely none. So forget any self doubt for the time being, and select a goal, a powerful desire, that you would like to attain. “Just like small fires create small amounts of heat, weak desires generate weak results. But when a powerful desire statement [goal] transforms that small fire into a raging inferno, it can put you on the fast track toward accomplishing your goals.” (Ken Baum, sports psychologist for pro-athletes)
The next step is to write that goal down and commit it to paper. Emmmitt Smith’s high school coach told him, “It’s a dream until you write it down. Then it’s a goal.” By writing it down you are holding yourself accountable to your dreams; its a concrete way of declaring “this is what I want, this is what I’m going to do, and this is what I’m committed to.” Your statement should be positive; for example it should not read, “I don’t want to miss my shots anymore” but rather, “I’m going to shoot 50% or higher.” You should post your goals up above your bed or desk, or put them on the fridge. They should not be stowed away in a folder or drawer to be forgotten about. You can take it to the next level by rewriting you goals in the morning and at night, or read them aloud to yourself in the mirror with enthusiasm and belief.
Make your goals detailed. The more detailed the goal, the more enticing it will become. Define the rewards and benefits that will come along with accomplishing your goals. If your goal is to become an All-American, then try pairing it up with a reward statement such as: “I’m going to be selected as an all american and then be recruited by a Division 1 program.” Effectively written goals will provide direction, enhance your training motivation, help you persevere through setbacks and build your confidence as you see success and improvement that might otherwise go unnoticed.
Measurable: Defining What It’s Going to Take
Getting specific with your goals means laying what its going to take to get there. Look at the reality of your present situation – what is your current speed, quickness, discipline, and stick handling ability? What’s necessary for you to reach your dream? What training process will you undertake in order for your goals and dreams to come true. How many days a week will you practice? What are your goals each day? What will you include in your workout plan? How will you adjust your diet, sleeping habits, and social life? Write your answers down in an action plan.
How much are you willing to do? Are you willing to make sacrifices so you can carry out the actions that are necessary for you to obtain your goal? The rewards of obtaining your goal are seductive, but your action plan will tell you definitively the price of achieving that reward. A good action plan might outline your strength and conditioning routine, and what stick skills and shooting drills you will do and how often you will do them.
Red Auerbach recognized that work ethic was just as important of an ingredient as talent when said: “take Larry Bird, he doesn’t have the speed, he doesn’t have the height, but he works and works, shoots and shoots … he sets inner goals for everything – for the week, for the month, for the season.” Your action steps will provide you with a weekly routine that will make your progress measurable.
Attainable: Is This Doable?
Your goals need to be reachable and you must be willing to pay the price to get there. If you want to be the best shooter on your team, in your league, or in the country, you have to be willing to go to spend your free time shooting on a net for 60 minutes or more a day – is this something that you can do? Some other aspect of your life may have to be removed to free up this time: social time, tv time, video games or something else.
Realistic; Assess Yourself
Having lofty goals is good, but don’t make them unrealistic. If you are a goalie, setting a goal of a season save percentage of 90% might not be setting yourself up for success. A good way to tell if your goal is realistic is to ask yourself if anyone has ever achieved it before. How do you compare to those that have? Evaluate your present talents – strengths and weaknesses – and compare them to those athletes who have already attained what you hope to accomplish.
Time; Creating a Time-line and Mile Markers
Give yourself a time frame for when you want to accomplish your goals. An example would be “to become the team’s #1 cover defense-man before the league playoffs.” Keep the time frame realistic; if you are currently on JV, becoming the #1 cover defense-man before the playoffs could be out of reason. Create a time-line for your not only your goals, but also your action steps, and set out mile markers along the way to measure your progress.
Lacrosse season is around the corner. There is still plenty of time to prepare for the season and to start those action steps that will help get you to the next level. There is not, however, any more time to put it off until tomorrow. See yourself in the future that you want, whether it is being an All American at a D1 National Championship contender program or a Rhodes Scholar playing club ball at the school of your dreams, then work backward, picturing yourself overcoming the obstacles in your path. Great achievements don’t start with reality – they start with desire. Sit down with a coach or a parent before the season and talk about your goals and ask for help creating putting together your action plan. Remember, there may always be a player out there who wants the same thing you do but is working harder to get it.