• Psychology

Goal Setting - Sports Psychology

Goal setting is a great place to start as we all do it for example; ‘by the end of winter training I want to be running better’. Done well it is a hugely motivating technique. The trick here is simply to make the goals that you set that much better.

The Golden Rule - the most important of all!

Set performance goals – these are goals that relate to the process of performance e.g. my goal is to run 2 seconds quicker in my next race.

8 Rules of Goal Setting

If you stick to these 8 rules you should be setting good performance goals and keeping well away from poor outcome goals.

  1. Make goals as specific as possible
  2. Be able to measure your goals
  3. Write your goals down and monitor them closely
  4. Make goals difficult, yet realistic to you
  5. Ensure your goals have a specific date to complete them by
  6. Help from others is great, but ensure you the athlete agree with the goals
  7. Set short term goals to enable you to achieve you longer term goal (usually at the end of a season)
  8. Evaluate your short term goals and be flexible in changing goals to reach you long term goal

Beware of poor goals

The other sorts of goals, which one should avoid, are outcome goals – these are goals that focus on the outcome of the event e.g. winning a particular race. These are dangerous and can lead to de-motivation as the goal is dependent upon so many other factors. For example you may achieve the goal of winning a race but be against poor opposition and actually feel you ran poorly, or you may loose the race as the opposition were very good even though you ran a personal best time.

Learn more / further reading

  1. Analysis
  2. Managing Stress
  3. Postive Talk
  4. Mental Imagery
  5. Relaxation


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