Good coaches understand that athletic success in sport is dependent upon your ability to successfully set goals. Long-term goals are important motivators in sport as they set a carrot just beyond your grasp encouraging you to work harder, practice longer and challenge yourself in order to obtain the ultimate result. It is easy to be discouraged in sport if you only set your sights on 'winning'. Setting personal goals and accomplishing them will give you a sense of gratification and progress, motivating you to continue practicing.
Short-term goals should be based on improving your skills and ability in training. Set targets and evaluate your progress at intervals. If your targets are being met, give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back, and increase the challenge. If you are having difficulties meeting your targets, consider whether they are indeed achievable, and if so, whether you should continue to practice, change your methods, or accept your limitations.
While practicing your short-term goals during training, mid-range goals centered around competition should always be at the back of your mind. Whether it be making the team, or winning a tournament, mid-range goals provide focus and drive. As the nature of competitive events requires that there is always a winner and always a loser, it is important to also set back-up goals, in order to feel that you have indeed achieved something, in light of a loss. A likely back-up goal is improving your performance from a previous game.
When examining your progress it is important to be honest with yourself. If your targets have been set too high, be realistic, and adjust as necessary. Most importantly, find pleasure in what you are doing.
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