Setting goals is a powerful motivator in sports performance. Goals give individual players and sports teams targets and numbers to strive for, and they can also be used as a measuring stick to monitor progress. Goals should be agreed upon between a coach and player and revisited as the competitive season progresses.
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SMART Goal Setting Model
Professors from Maine Community College support the SMART goal-setting model. The SMART goal-setting model suggests that goals fit the criteria of specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. Specific and measurable examples of goal-setting would be a basketball player aiming to score an average of over 10 points or provide an average of over 10 assists per game. The figure set in these goals is specific and it is easy to measure progress by tracking game scores as the season progresses. Achievable and realistic goals should be discussed and agreed upon by both the player and the coach. Past performance and perceived potential should be taken into account when setting these goals. A timely example of goal setting is a soccer player aiming to score 20 goals before the end of the season.
Dr. Mary Walling and Dr. Joan Duda explain the concept of task-oriented and ego-oriented goals in an article in "Performance Edge: The Letter of Performance Psychology." Task-oriented goals focus on learning and improving on a consistent basis, rather than the end result. An example of a task-oriented goal would be for a soccer player to set the target of mastering five different moves to beat a defender within two months.
Also referred to as performance-oriented goals, an ego-oriented goal will focus on results produced, such as number of goals scored or games won. An example of an ego-oriented goal would be for a baseball player to set the goal of hitting 10 home runs and achieving 30 RBIs in a season.
Individually Oriented Goals
Individual sports such as tennis and athletics require an individual to motivate themselves with a range of task- and ego-oriented goals. It is also important in team sports that individuals motivate themselves with their own personal goals and incorporate them within team goals. An example of this is a hockey goalkeeper who sets the goal of making 10 saves a game or achieving 10 shutouts in a season.
Sports teams should set a range of goals that are both task- and ego-oriented to help their sports performance. It is beneficial if a sports team does not get caught up purely in wins and losses. External factors such as weather and refereeing can at times impact results, so it is preferable to focus on the overall performance. While including results, it is beneficial to set a range of goals for a season. An example would be an American football team that set goals of winning 10 games in a season. In addition, the team could aim to achieve 20 first downs in a game, concede less than 20 first downs and complete over 50 percent of their passes.