Goal Setting Basics

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.