When working with athletes, its imperative that we set goals and visualise these objectives with them. While it sounds arbitrary and even too simple, it is extremely important to keep them motivated and to provide longevity in their careers.
We like setting goals for them in blocks of three and we don’t move forward to the next set of three objectives until these three are met. While it sounds regimental and lacking creativity, it ensures that standards are met and that the athlete is always on a certain track. The worst thing we need to happen is to realise during competition that there are fundamental weaknesses which limit the progression of the athlete.
During some of the conversations we have with athletes, we found that many of them had long term goals that were still too quantifiable and in some cases, too short reaching. This prevented them from doing what was necessary and beyond at times to increase their training potential which would then result in performance increments. Physiology aside, setting the right goals will also allow athletes to adopt the right mindset or begin training the right one because it is what’s needed for their success.
When we come down to it, we narrowed the position that an athlete is to a few situations :
- Athlete has not set goals at all
- Athlete has set goals that are too short
- Athlete has set long term goals that are still too quantifiable
- Athlete has set the right long term goals
Obviously, situation 4 is the ideal but many of us have yet to get there. It is always a work in process but what we believe is that getting the first level of goal-posts right helps a lot in the planning of a training plan as well as preparing the athlete for what’s ahead. An athlete who has not yet set goals is rare but it happens when he/she is relatively new to the sport. Cases 2 and 3 are the most common.
In the case where the athlete has set goals that are too short in nature, it simply means that he/she is training without a long term objective in mind. This to us is probably one of the most dangerous cases as they could fall off at anytime since they have nothing to look at after they accomplish the current objective. Case 3 refers to an objective that is still able to be reached that may result in the chance of falling off. Here’s an example :
Athlete A is an amazing tennis player and sets his long term goal to be the World Number 1. After 8 years of hard work and toiling, he reaches his goal and now feels empty. His form begins to slip and resilience cracks the moment his position is challenged. Coaches and trainers say he needs to work on his mental or that they game has changed since 6 years ago.
Sound familiar? Because it happens all the time.
We believe that the truly great athletes never aspired to be great but truly enjoyed their sport and discipline. Their goals were always to enjoy the sport and to walk away regardless of their achievement as long as they did not enjoy it anymore. To great success, this has been shown to exist in many of the greatest athletes today. Perhaps their long term goal was simply to keep enjoying the sport and play it for as long as they can. While it sounds like a fluffy goal, it is not ultimately quantifiable unless retirement is from choice but it allows for a large space for them to plan their immediate goals along the way, for example, becoming the world number 1. Some of them even look at great achievements as high blips in their career and never planned for it. They simply trained and worked hard because its what it required of an athlete.
In our next article, we will be speaking about goal setting and how to create long term goals before getting started on the short term ones.
Have a good training and hear from us soon!
Fuel.Train.Peform is a website dedicated to providing elite level knowledge for athletes who wish to turn professional or are in the continuous pursuit of excellence.
Follow us on Instagram @fueltrainperform and hashtag us for a possible feature.