What´s the finish? Your measurable goal! – What`s the start? Where you are right now.
Looking at a race, the start and finish are clear and measurable. In running or skiing, we know the distance of the race. In soccer, how long a usual game goes and possible variations. A gymnast wants to include certain elements. I could go on, but you see that all of the competition setups come with measurements to determine time, points, distance (i.e. in ski jumping), or other specifics.
These are the same principles we want to implement when talking about goal setting. We have a clear starting point and a measurable finish. When we know what kind of goal we are looking at, we also know what we need to determine as our start line or vice versa.
For example, when the goal is to rank at a certain place, it is also important to look at the current ranking. The common goal “I want to get better” can be taken apart with the following questions:
- What does “better” exactly mean → which leads to the measurable goal
- Better than what → which is the current situation
- Better as/in what exactly → which describes the skill that needs to be improved
Why is it important to have a measurable goal?
- It gives athletes clarity. Not just about what needs to be accomplished and the specific outcome that is expected. It most likely already shows or makes clear what needs to happen to get to the desired outcome.
- This first step also makes it obvious if the goal is a fitting one. As soon as the goal is clear and we know what it takes to get to the set target. If this seems a bit too ambitious or not even a bit challenging, the goal can be adjusted, at least for the moment.
- Athletes know what to focus on: Measurable goals help to see what is most important. It is easier to stay on track and avoid distractions or unnecessary activities. Whatever is about to happen, the question should be: Is this leading towards or away from the goal?
- When knowing what action a goal requires, it is motivating to go and do it. A fitting measurable goal is highly motivating. It provides a clear sense of progress and achievement over time and the desire to stay on track.
- A goal keeps athletes accountable: The set goal can be shared with as many or few people as wanted. Sharing a goal is a great way to stay on track because those people keep athletes accountable just by knowing about the desired achievement. If an athlete doesn´t like to share the goal, it can be written down and stored in a private place with easy access. Not every athlete needs others to keep themself accountable, but it might be extra helpful in certain situations.
- A measurable goal is easy to evaluate: It shows a clear direction and what the progress should look like over time. If something is off, it´s possible to adjust to get back on track. If improvements are bigger than expected, the goal or the timeframe to reach the goal can be adjusted.
- Communication will be more effective: Having a specific goal leads to specific questions the athletes can ask throughout the process. I would include that the athletes also can look up resources leading towards the goal instead of just looking for general information that might be distracting.
- And the learnings are at a different level: Measurable goals provide opportunities for learning and growth in specific areas. Not even sport-specific once exclusively. Identifying areas for improvement and taking all the steps with a conscious mind will shortcut the process to success.
A goal is the marker that paves the way to go. It might not be the easiest to set a goal, but all the positive impact a goal has is worth finding it and making it measurable. Coaches, parents, and other supporters want to encourage young athletes to set goals and to understand their starting point. With this in mind, pursuing their athletic dreams becomes even more exciting, especially in times when other activities and distractions would compete with the pathway. The role of mindset in achieving success as a young athlete becomes obvious and strengthens the bounding with the set goal.
Do you have a Dream? Keep going towards it :)
WHAT DOES AN ATHLETE NEED TO SUCCEED?
Not just one thing makes successful athletes, but a few in combination. Get the list of THIRTEEN by signing up below.
If you are an athlete, please let your parents know you got this list.