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Youth Athletes and Goal Setting

Goal Setting is often overlooked by young athletes, but it is so exciting to talk about because goal setting can literally change your life!

Have you heard teens or friends say things like “I am going to the gym so I can become a better athlete”, or “My goal is to play soccer in college.” These are great aspirations, but they are abstract. In order to turn them into effective GOALS we must consider a few additional things and put some things into action.

*The goal needs to be measurable. And because teens are in school most of their time, it might be most effective to use school timelines for your goal. For example: “By the end of the term, I will read 2 books on mindset in sports.” (Versus “I will read about mindset in sports.”)Another example is “From now until summer break, I will attend 2 hours of dance classes three times a week.” (As opposed to “I will go to dance class and learn a new leap.”) This way, you can get a journal, or even a piece of paper, and write down the goal with tallies to represent the achievement along the way.

*The goal must be attainable and should ensure that it will be successful in a timely manner. Sometimes, I encourage kids to make two goals at once….one being a reachable goal (but still will take work) and one that seems a bit out of reach (more challenging because when you challenge yourself, that is when you grow the most!). However if you make a goal such as: “I will get invited to Olympic training for track”, it is not attainable in a manageable timeline. You could get invited to Olympic training, but a better goal to set is: This track season, I will shave off 3 minutes from my 5k. This goal is still in line with getting to Olympic training, but is achievable with some work and within a fair timeline. A more challenging goal to set at the same time could be “I will complete three 5K races by summer, and will also get on honor roll the last two terms.” Both of these examples are within reach, and within an appropriate timeframe.

*The goal is one that will show growth over time. There really isn’t a reason to make a goal if we don’t intend on changing and growing, right?! It is so cool to think about setting a goal for a few months, then achieving it, and making it an even bigger and more challenging goal. When you do this, you will actually see on paper the growth over time! This is inspiring, and incredible. If you do not write goals down then time will pass, and all of a sudden it will be a year later, and you are still benching the same amount, or running the same 5K on average, or perhaps you still are doing the same dismount in gymnastics.

*It should be one that you truly want to achieve.

Your goals should NOT be what your parents want you to do, or what your coach wants you to do, or your girlfriend, sibling, or church want you to do. Your goals HAVE to be something you internally, without hesitation want to do. Otherwise, they likely will not be attained, and if they are, they will likely not “stick” or become the stepping stone to a bigger goal that you are trying to achieve.

*Write down who can help with your goal, and obstacles you might have. This is HUGE. WTRITE YOUR GOAL DOWN! When you put it on paper, it psychologically helps, because it puts it out into the universe and becomes more of a plan instead of a thought. When you write it down, add to the paper people who can help you reach your goal…. “Mr. Smith- he has the key to the ice rink and can open it for me at 6:00am on Saturday morning.”Then go talk to Mr. Smith. Or Coach Matt-he is the person who teaches me form and appropriate eating habits to support my workouts.This puts the plan into action, and the secondary gain is that now Mr. Smith and Coach Matt KNOW your goal and can help you! Recognizing obstacles is crucial as well. There is no such thing as success without obstacles….so knowing them and identifying them ahead of time is key.

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