Goal setting: A motivational tool to develop talent

Thursday, November 27, 2014 - 10:00

Setting goals for any athlete creates a vision and sets a plan of what they hope to accomplish. Goals should be challenging but also realistic in order to keep the athlete motived.  Writing them down ensures that the process is more effective since they are able to refer to objectives on a regular basis. Having short-term, medium-term and long-term goals allows an athlete to dream, develop motivation and measure each step towards achieving their big picture aspirations. 

Goals are what an athlete is trying to accomplish throughout the season or their career. They are also tools to develop their mental skills. There are three types of goals – outcome, performance and process.

Outcome goals require an end result such as winning a tournament or a championship title. These types of goals are out of the athlete's control as they are predicated on not only how well the athlete performs, but also on how well their opponents and teammates perform. They are long-term and if achieved, the athlete will very likely set their sites on achieving new and even more challenging standards.

Performance goals are under the athletes control and highlight the athlete’s own performance. They develop mastery and allow an athlete to evaluate their performance - whether they win or lose.  Unlike outcome goals, a coach can have an influence in the development process if consulted by the athlete. A performance goal could involve trying to make 70% of free throw shots during a basketball game or simply making fewer mistakes during a game. They also specify the end result of a performance.

Process goals concentrate on skill development such as technique or form. They are goals the athlete has control over and should also be developed in consultation with the coach. Process goals are short-term and can be used to positively impact performance. They are an indication of progress towards the athlete’s performance objectives.

Developing Goals and the LTAD Model

On the LTAD scale, process goals can be useful in the early stages of active start and fundamentals movement. At this stage the coach has more of an influence on development of skills and movement. Performance goals can begin to be implemented in the learning to train and train to train stages. These stages allow athletes to begin to establish mastery of a sport. Outcome goals can be implemented in the train to compete and train to win stages, as winning is the important element within these stages.

Process goals play a role in achieving performance goals and performance goals have an influence in achieving outcome goals. Overall, goal setting can be a great motivating tool and benchmark to evaluate progress; keeping them positive and achievable can keep the athletes motivated to be the best they can be. 

References from the SIRC Collection:

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2. Gill G. THE EFFECTS OF GOAL SETTING ON BASKETBALL PERFORMANCE. International Journal Of Sports Sciences & Fitness. January 2013;3(1):54-65.

3 .Grove J, Lirgg C. Outcome Goals Aren't Always Harmful. Journal Of Sport & Exercise Psychology. March 2000;22(1):107.

4. Humphreys D. EYE ON THE PRIZE. Sports 'N Spokes Magazine. January 2011;37(1):49-52.

5. Performance Goals May Make a Difference. Journal Of Sport & Exercise Psychology. December 1990;12(4):331-332.

6. Simões P, Vasconcelos-Raposo J, Silva A, Fernandes H. Effects of a Process-Oriented Goal Setting Model on Swimmer's Performance. Journal Of Human Kinetics. May 2012;32:65-76.