Follow us on:

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn YouTube


Why goal setting is so useful in sports |14 January 2023

Research has shown that most successful athletes set goals; focus on them and on how to achieve them.

Athletes who have already set their goals in 2022 should revisit, evaluate and make adjustments for the coming major competition which is the Indian Ocean Islands Games in Madagascar.

A very powerful motivation for training preparation or competition is setting your goal. It is like setting your sail to catch the wind to your destination.

Goals should be set according to standardised criteria that need to be met if we really want them to serve the purpose of motivating yourself.


Smart criteria for setting goal

According to this criterion, the goal must be measurable, moderate, but achievable, realistic and time bounded.

A specific goal is the one that clearly defines what needs to be changed or improved. A specific goal should be clear that both athlete and coach understand it equally when to be accomplished, and when it is not. For example, a volleyballer wants to improve the serve; it will read he/she wants to improve the jump and landing when serving.

Measurable goal is not difficult to set in sport because we can measure time, weigh, or number of repetition. When it comes to goals related to technique of performing certain exercise or movement, then we define goals with the help of assessment on a scale of 1-10 as well as the coach assessment. The two estimates are compared and summed up, and the total sum represents the measurement of the achieved goal.


Examples of goals

A short goal is a goal that has to be completed in the near future, such as within weeks on the next month.

Medium term goals could be winning a national title or beating a personal best time by the end of the season or within six months.

Long term goals, to achieve a medal in the Olympic Games in four years’ time, but will never happen without setting smaller goals to start with, such as skills to work on in upcoming training sessions, and improvement of fitness level.


Process goals vs outcome goals

Let’s differentiate between process-based goal and the outcome-based goals. The outcome goals are concerned with the end result and answer the question ‘What do I want to accomplish?’ As for process goals, they refer to the engagement and the way (steps) in which the goals will be reached and answer the question ‘How will I achieve this?’

The goals do not make sense on their own, and it is necessary for the athlete to answer both questions in order to define the ultimate goals as well as have a clear picture of what is needed to achieve it. A process without goal is as impossible as a goal without a process.

Goal leads to arousal and energy increase. For example, if you come to training in low mood, the set goal of the training will automatically increase your will power and energy to successfully complete the training session. Goals also direct our attention and actions. If your goal is to increase swimming stroke, speed, and legwork, then you will mostly be focused on doing that. Goals lead to the outcome, greater satisfaction, perseverance in behaviour. We don’t know where we are going, it is much more likely that we will give up. Setting goals require development of task – execution strategy. If we have goals, we have to know the steps leading to their achievement.

Athletes should write down their goals and set dates to follow the progress of reaching them.

Without a goal, it is like running in the forest to nowhere. Maybe you will get where you started.

This is part of setting goals for your sport. For more details contact your coach or a sport specialist.

It is my pleasure to share a few tips on setting goals with you.


Certified mental coach Maurice Denys



More news