Setting goals has proved to be one of the
most simple and
effective motivational devices developed for sports within the past
While the concept is not new, today the techniques for effective goal
setting have been refined and clarified.
What can coaches and
parents do to
help develop athletes who will face
challenges rather than be
overwhelmed by them?
Why is it
that many athletes seem to fall apart
when they enter competitions
with other really good athletes?
"gifted" or "talented" label
do more harm than good?
motivation something that can be taught?
What is Motivation?
Motivation is all about
identifying the needs of an individual and/or team. The process of
striving to meet those needs provides the opportunities for coaches and
parents to motivate.
Methods of enhancing an
athlete's motivation include:
- Providing more time and attention to an athlete when
is having difficulty learning a skill
small gains of achievement for ALL skill levels - beginners through
- Develop other measures of
recognizing skating achievement besides winning
- Show your athletes that they
are important to you
after a loss as well as after a winning
- Show your athletes that you are
proud of them and excited
about what they are doing in skating and especially recognize non
- Fill your
athletes with self worth, self esteem, self
confidence in skating and non skating activities
Goals give direction. They tell us what needs
They increase effort, persistence and the quality of performance.
Establishing goals also requires that the athlete and coach determine
techniques for how to achieve those goals.
There are different factors that must be considered
goals that will work. The following are brief descriptions of important
goals are very specific and measurable. Goals stated in the form of "I
want to be the best that I can be!" or "I want to improve my
performance!" are vague and difficult to measure. It is positive
sounding but difficult, if not impossible, to assess if they have
been achieved. To have a valid purpose, a Measurable Goal must
establish a baseline for recent performance.
goals are perceived as challenging, not threatening. A challenging goal
is one perceived as difficult but attainable within a reasonable amount
of time and with a reasonable amount of effort or ability. A
threatening goal is one perceived as being beyond one's current
capacity. Realistic implies that judgment is involved. Goals based upon
a baseline of performance recorded during the past one or two weeks are
likely to be realistic.
Long versus short-term Goals
long and short-term goals provide direction, but short-term goals
appear to have the greatest motivational effects. Short-term goals are
more readily attainable and are stepping stones to more distant
long-term goals. Unrealistic short-term goals are easier to recognize
than unrealistic long-term goals. Unrealistic goals can then be
modified before valuable practice time has been lost.
Positive versus Negative Goal
goals direct what to do rather than what not to do. Negative goals
direct our attention to the errors we wish to avoid or eliminate.
Positive goals also require coaches and athletes to decide how they
will reach those specific goals. Once the goal is decided, the athlete
and coach must determine specific strategies and techniques which allow
that goal to be successfully attained.
goals are limited in number and meaningful to the athlete. Setting a
limited number of goals requires that athletes and coaches decide what
is important and fundamental for continued development. Establishing a
few, carefully selected goals also allow athletes and coaches to keep
accurate records without becoming overwhelmed with record keeping.
Mutual Goal Setting
setting becomes an effective motivational device when athletes are
committed to achieving those goals. When goals are imposed or
established without significant input from the athletes, motivation is
unlikely to be enhanced.
Establish Specific Time Lines
dates provide urgency to an athlete's efforts. Specific target dates
tend to eliminate wishful thinking and clarify what goals are realistic
and which are not. Timelines are especially valuable in high-risk
sports where fear often promotes procrastination in learning new skills.
Formal versus Informal Goal
coaches and athletes think that goals must be set in formal meetings
outside of practice and require long periods of thoughtful evaluation
before they are decided upon. Goals are literally progressions which
coaches have been using for years but are now expressed in measurable,
performance terms rather than as vague, generalized outcomes.
Team versus Individual Goals
Team goals have great importance
and dance teams or
Synchronized Teams or Theater On Ice teams. Most team goals can
down into individual roles or
weakness of an individual skater on a team
requires establishing a separate set of individual goals. Each
skater must accept their
individual responsibilities for the team to function effectively.
Goal Setting Domains
asked to set goals, athletes typically focus on the learning of new
skills or performances in competitions. A major role of the coach is to
broaden the athlete's perception of those areas, and goal setting can
be an effective tool. Goals can be set to enhance fitness, improve
attendance, increase intensity, promote sportsmanship, develop team
spirit, find more free time, or establish consistency.
Identify a long-term goal. Now break
long-term goal into
short-term and intermediate goals that will help you reach the
long-term goals. Coaches use a similar process to break down
skills into smaller, simpler skills.
Goal setting is
defined as "a specific outcome that an
individual is striving to achieve", Expressions such as "intend to" or
"desire to" are often used in
setting goals. For example, "I intend to compete in Junior Ladies this
Goals are set to
needs. Psychologist Abraham
Maslow developed the Hierarchy of Needs to classify human needs into
five general categories. Those needs that are higher in the hierarchy
are considered more important, and cannot be satisfied unless the needs
below them in the hierarchy are satisfied first. Maslow's Hierarchy of
Needs stresses personal growth and
development. Understanding the
Hierarchy of Needs helps to explain differences in behavior between
A subordinate goal does not imply an easier goal.
Locke & Latham
suggests that more difficult goals will enhance performance level,
especially when the task is performed voluntarily. Setting up rigid and
realistic goals based on the learner's competence is more
effective than setting easy goals.
Performance goals vs.
According to Ames' 1988 study, when performance goals are
involved, there is a concern by individuals whose ability is being
is often given as evidence of ability that is demonstrated by
outperforming others, but it may also be that others have had a "bad
day" that is not truly representative of their abilities.
In the mastery of a goal the importance is attached
to developing new skills. The process of learning itself is the valued
goal of mastery that is seen as dependent on effort the individual's
Examples that compare mastery and performance
- Mastery Goal -
Understanding the concepts and their application is more
important than earning a high grade, and that's why I work so hard to
learn. My performance is better than it was at the beginning of the
- Performance Goal
- The key to success is avoiding mistakes to receive a high
score. The reward for practicing hard is that my performance is better
than other skaters.
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