Much has been written about the importance of goal setting; its importance unquestioned. Goals are like a map, pointing swimmers in the right direction. Goals are like a ruler, measuring progress along the way. Goals are like a magnet, drawing swimmers ever closer to them.
The setting of goals is a personal matter. No outside person, be it a well-meaning coach or parent, should impose their goals upon a swimmer. If a goal lacks meaning to a swimmer, they will fail to achieve it.
Goals come in three forms; short-term, intermediate, and long-term. Think of long-term goals as the final destination and the short-term and intermediate goals as steps along the way.
When setting goals, swimmers should consider the following points:
• Goals should be realistic and reflect the swimmers’ abilities, motivation levels, and time restraints.
• Ill-defined goals have little chance of success.
• Goals should be performance-based versus outcome-based. Achieving a best time is a performance based goal. Winning an event is an outcome-based goal. Swimmers have total control over their performance, but not over the outcome.
• Goal setting helps swimmers to identify their shortcomings and what needs to change.
• Goals must be simply written, measurable, and stated in the positive.
• Goals should be reviewed periodically to ensure that swimmers remain on track.
• Goals should have a time limit or completion date.
• Swimmers should set new goals once current goals are achieved.
• All short-term and intermediate goals must relate to the long-term goal.
• Swimmers should limit the number of goals to a few, as too many goals scatter the focus and waste energy.