In the 1960s two psychologist, Edwin Locke and Gary Latham researched the link between goal setting and motivation. They found that specific and challenging goals contribute to significantly better task performance. Setting good goals will drastically increase motivation and increase productivity by between 11% and 25%. Goals have the ability to change behaviour, so to make the most of them, know how to set SMART goals.
The key to goal setting is creating smart milestones. When jumping into goal setting initially, people tend to focus on outcome goals, ignoring the essential process and performance components. Too often people set unrealistic goals (you're not likely to go from a :26 to a :22 in your 50 free in one season), or set goals to broad, without a time-frame for completion. This is where SMART goals come in.
Setting SMART Goals
Setting SMART goals is crucial in the goal setting process heading into the start of your season.
Goals should be Specific, this means what you are trying to accomplish with the goal is well defined, and anyone with an understanding of the discipline should understand it. An exact time or number of practices a week you want to hit would be specific.
Your goals need to be Measurable. You need to know the point at which your goal has been completed, saying you want to get better at swimming isn't a very good goal.
Goals should be Attainable, with the resources you have and the effort you are willing to put in, are these goals within the realm of possibility?
The goals you set also need to be Realistic, meaning it is something you not only can realistically obtain, but you also realistically want to work towards. Goals work best when set for yourself, rather than to fulfill someone else’s wishes or expectations of you.
Finally, your goals need to have a time-frame. Is it something you want to accomplish this week, at the next meet, or within the season?
The next few weeks will be goal setting time, as a new season begins there is no better time to start putting together your goals. Within sports psychology there are 3 types of goals. Process goals, performance goals and outcome goals. Knowing what each includes and how to set them will help with your goal setting and let you get the jump on the season.
Process goals are about executing the actual training schedule and processes you need to improve. These are the most important types of goals, and will be the foundation of your success. Without them, nothing else matters. If you're not getting into the weight room, or making all your practices, you won't be doing the hard work necessary for improvement. On top of that, your process goals set up for your performance goals. When you’re hitting all your workouts, and doing what is necessary during them, you can start to reach your performance goals without even thinking about them. Some good process goals would include:
- Making it to 9 practices a week
- Doing all the sets exactly as instructed
- Eating at least 3000 calories a day
Performance goals are the ones that track your improvement. Setting these benchmark goals help you continuously improve heading into the season, and this is where TritonWear will help you excel. Knowing all of your metrics comes into play here, to help you the most. Some good performance goals include:
- Increasing DPS in free from 1.3m to 1.4 by state or provincial championship
- Speeding up turn time from 1 second to 0.8
- Getting stroke index up to 5 within 4 months
- Spending 5 seconds Underwater off every wall for all practices
- Being able to maintain times, as well as stroke count and rate throughout test sets
Being able to track these goals and metrics throughout your season will allow you to track your improvements to the fullest extent. These metrics can tell you everything you need to know about your stroke and your training. A smart athlete will set these types of goals for themselves on a daily basis and check their results everyday to see where their metrics are going.
These goals are what your training is really about. Accomplishing these goals will be the result of proper application of your process and performance goals, and working hard day in and day out. A few good outcome goals would be:
- Winning at a state or Provincial championship
- Scoring 50 individual points at a championship meet
- Swimming a 1:04 100 breast
- Medal in a relay at nationals
Having good outcome goals help keep athletes motivated but ultimately is the least important of the 3 goal types due to the lack of control you have over them. Another swimmer can out touch you for the win or push you out of a finals spot, a teammate can get your relay DQ'd or you could be having an off day the day of the meet. What is most important, is to continuously focus on performance throughout the season, monitoring and measuring how close you are to reaching your process and performance goals. If you do all this and set SMART goals, the outcomes you worked for will emerge.