Goal setting can sometimes get boring and not be used to its full effectiveness. A systematic program called SMART will help coaches and athletes better achieve goals, improve performance and athletic motivation.
SMART stands for:
The use of such an acronym is helpful in having athletes remember some of the key elements within goal setting. Goal setting, done correctly, involves many facets to be truly effective. One can, though, still be effective with focus on the basic elements within SMART goals.
Specific stresses the need to be specific about what one wants to accomplish. The general objective of doing better is fine, but one needs to get specific – “I want to hit 90% of my free throws,” or “I want to hit .350 this season.” This specificity allows us to determine precisely whether the goal has or has not been achieved.
Measurable means we can determine whether the goal has been achieved through precise measurement of the target behavior. “I want to have fun” is great, but we need to be able to measure fun in order to identify whether we are, indeed, having fun yet. Many aspects of athletics lend themselves to being easily measurable (percentage of free throws, batting average, mile time, etc.).
Attainable means that the goal is reachable. Setting goals that are too difficult is a recipe for failure, subsequent disappointment, and potential dropout. Our goals should be difficult, but challenging. Too easy and we get bored. Too difficult and we don’t succeed and drop out.
Realistic is a cousin of attainable, but focuses on a reality check that the goal is one that can be reached with hard work and proper training strategies (incorporating physical and psychological skills).
Time Bound emphasizes the need to identify within what time period one wishes to achieve one’s goal. Do I want to increase my bench press from 250 to 300 pounds within one month, six months, a year? How about dropping my mile time from 4:15 to 3:59.9 – how long will that take? What is my target date? The time element helps us develop our short-, intermediate, and long-term goals to better train to achieve the goals we have set.