The importance of setting goals in sports psychology

Goal setting is a strategy that helps control important psychological aspects affecting an athlete’s performance, such as mindfulness control, self-confidence or motivation. Setting realistic but ambitious goals is one of the basic methodological keys of sports psychology.

For this, and taking into account the season, training sessions or matches, the coach must decide what goals the athletes should achieve, Individually and collectively. If the goals are realistic, specific, measurable, achievable and achieved in a given time, they will bring many benefits to the athletes and the team.

Set clear goals

the goals they show the way forward in the work of the coach and the athletes. When clear goals are not set or the goal is too high, motivation and self-confidence are affected. Therefore, good goal setting helps improve many psychological aspects and marks the direction in which efforts should be directed.

Also, set goals it allows to evaluate the progress of the sport and allows changes to be made when set expectations are not met.

Types of objectives: result objectives and achievement objectives

In order to set the goals for the season or matches, the coach (or better yet the sports psychologist) must differentiate between achievement objectives I result objectives.

1. Result objectives

Result targets refer to collective and individual results which are meant to achieve, like winning the league, getting more points etc.

2. Achievement objectives

For their part, the achievement objectives refer to the the individual and collective behaviors that athletes must adopt to achieve the desired results. For example, improving the counterattack, mastering one-touch passes, or throwing multiple times into the basket from different positions.

Outcome goals are more useful in increasing athlete interest, but achievement goals are more effective so that athletes can perceive that they are in control of the situation they are facing. Both types of goals help define the direction a coach and athletes should follow.

Benefits of achievement targets

Achievement targets have certain advantages. Here are the most important:

  • They allow athletes to establish beneficial contingencies between their own behavior and their results.
  • They accentuate and reinforce the behavior of athletes rather than the consequences of what they do, which do not depend so much on them.
  • They allow a more realistic assessment of the viability of the objectives.
  • They encourage athletes’ attention in their own behavior, adopting a more productive and rewarding style of functioning.
  • They allow performance evaluation in a simple and efficient way.
  • They promote self-confidence, alertness and motivation in athletes.

Characteristics of effective lenses

For the objectives to be effective they must meet certain requirementsAs they could be harmful if they do not meet certain criteria.

For example, if the coach sets goals that are too ambitious and unattainable, the self-confidence of the athletes will be negatively affected. To avoid this you will find below a number of features that present effective goals:

  • Final and intermediate objectives must be defined and the deadline set for achieving them
  • The objectives must be precise and very well defined
  • Goals must be engaging, but also realistic
  • The objectives must be stimulating, but at the same time demand a proportionate cost
  • In team sports, collective and individual goals must be set

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