The pursuit of any achievement in life takes more than dreaming. Goal setting with measurable outcomes should be a part of anything you really want to accomplish. For athletes, knowing how to set realistic goals while pushing personal limits is the key to consistently improving.
Take a look at these suggestions for aiming high, being real, and working hard to achieve any physical performance goal:
Start where you are, right now.
If you’ve been out of a workout routine for a while, or are starting something completely new, take a realistic look at where you are at physically. If you have not run more than a mile in a year, don’t go out and try to run three miles on your first workout. Overloading yourself upfront leads to a greater chance that you will burn out before you even have a real chance at working towards your goal.
What is your end goal? Is it a new skateboarding trick you want to master? Is it to nail your upcoming volleyball game? Find a short-term (within 6 months) goal, and then work backwards. If it is to accomplish a new trick, sign up for a contest and make that date your end goal, then figure out how much you’ll need to train or practice until then. You might be surprised how much progress you can make on your fitness and athletic goals when there is a foreseeable deadline.
Go beyond measurable outcomes.
It’s important to put a number or benchmark on your athletic goals, but it’s also important to remember that in addition to physical performance, self-determination, mental fortitude, and pushing yourself beyond what you think you can accomplish are all part of the improvement and skill development process. You should always set behavioral goals meant to improve your attitude and commitment to athletic performance.
If you’re a basketball player having trouble with free throw consistency, make it a goal to practice your free throws for at least 30 minutes every day, and then set up scrimmages to simulate the pressure that will be placed on you during a game. Maybe you’re a BMX rider and can’t quite get the feel down for a seamless 360, make it a goal to head to the foam pit for several hours a day, four days a week, and track your metrics with a motion sensor combined with a slow-motion video replay. Having this data and video footage during practice can really help you perfect your rotation technique, making it easier to nail on the real jumps. Dream big, but also pick a goal that’s attainable and one that you’re willing to work for.
Recognize what is out of your control.
There are a lot of things that could happen to push your goal off track. This is especially true if you participate in team sports. You can only control your own performance – and even then, there will be times that life gets in the way. If you have a day where you just can’t meet your goals, despite the best efforts on your part, don’t get frustrated. Start again tomorrow. Remember that as long as you don’t give up, you haven’t failed.
Find accountability partners.
Perhaps you like the solitude that a good workout brings. Not everyone enjoys socialization and fitness combined, and that’s okay. It’s still important to find people who can keep you accountable for your fitness goals. You can find this in online groups, through fitness coaches, on fitness websites, at your gym, or just in your circle of friends and loved ones. For all you techies, incorporating a motion sensor into your routine cannot only help you track, monitor, and improve your performance, but you can now record yourself and automatically create highlight reels. Share your fitness goals and accomplishments with them and ask them to keep you accountable.
Give yourself short-term and long-term rewards for your accomplishments. Maybe you’d like to spend some money on new clothes when you reach a certain weight, or you want to treat yourself to your favorite drink after a week of hard workouts. It’s okay to allow yourself to celebrate in small, fun ways that don’t take you completely off your athletic performance track.