I’m going to be blunt: The number 1 mistake coaches make with their earlyseason goal setting meeting, is to set those goals, and then forget it. They start out all excited, but there’s no real strategy behind it, so there is no positive benefit.

First, you have to make a decision to actually spend the time setting goals. But assuming you’re on board with that part, let’s talk about what it actually looks like to set goals for your team.

Goal Setting Gone Wrong

At the beginning of the season, it’s very easy to have a chat with your team about goals, maybe set a few goals and you may even leave that meeting all pumped up and ready for the season. The team has made a goal for individual technical skills, or the team wants to place top 5 at state, or whatever you decide on. The conversation goes well, and everyone feels excited.

But then you get into the actual WORK it takes and somehow, it’s like that meeting never happened. If you’re not purposeful about how you handle your goal setting meeting, it will inevitably be worthless. 

To help make sure your goal setting team meeting is not only a valuable way to spend your practice time, but that the value keeps on giving all season, there are 7 steps you can follow to ensure goal setting success.

Step 1:

Talk about core values. Before you even set goals. Stop and talk about what the core values are for the team. Have everyone brainstorm separately first, then put your thoughts together and see how many ideas overlap. Once you see common themes and overlap, then narrow it down to three. These core values will likely change year to year, and that’s a good thing. Even if you’re a team with a well-established culture, don’t skip this step.

Step 2:

Have everyone brainstorm at least 3 team goals. Before you start talking as a team, everyone writes down at least three goals that they believe should be a focus for the team. This helps prevent “group-think” and makes sure even rookies are involved in the conversation and it’s a true team effort.

Step 3: 

Discuss the goals and determine your “biggest” goal (can be competition/outcome-oriented or not) for the season.

Step 4:

Set 3-4 goals that lead up to that bigger goal. Think if it as an ascension model. You want to get to that big goal, but you need the stairs that will help you get there. For examples, if your big goal it to win a state championship, maybe a preliminary goal is to achieve a certain number of routine full-outs by X date, and you have a cardio training goal by a date earlier than that, and then a goal about positive team culture that has to happen even before that. With whatever you choose, work backward and determine what has to happen along the way for your big goal to be possible.

goal setting
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Step 5:

For every goal, discuss HOW you will achieve it. Put dates on your calendar and plans in place to make it happen. It can’t be wishy-washy or hypothetical. What days will you practice this skill, how long, and when during practice? Who is tracking the goal and how? Delegate to the necessary people on your team to make it happen!

Step 6:  

Plan for when you will evaluate the goal and stick to it. This is the biggest step people miss around setting goals, and why we often set it and forget it. Once you have your 4-5 goals for the season, set evaluation dates. For example, if you have a cardio training goal that’s set for 8 weeks from now, write down in your calendar to check progress towards that goal at weeks 2, 4, and 6. That way you can evaluate progress and make changes as necessary. Otherwise, you may get all the way to week 8 and if you remember the goal at all, it’s too late to make changes if you’re falling short.

Step 7:

POST your goals and display them somewhere everyone can see. Make a poster for your practice room. Make a home screen image everyone can share on their phone, have everyone make a small poster that goes on their bathroom mirror… it doesn’t matter. But research shows posting it somewhere everyone will see it regularly will dramatically increase your chances of success.

A goal setting meeting doesn’t have to be complicated. But it has to be intentional. Follow this proven simple process for your first team meeting and see what a difference it will make!

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