Thursday, 23 May 2024

Help Your Teammates Set the Right Goals

Teams with big dreams of sport success often set ambitious goals. However, it’s important to ensure these goals are SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Setting unrealistic goals can lead to frustration and may even harm team dynamics. In this article, we will explore four common pitfalls that teams should avoid when setting goals.

Outcome-Based Goals

Having the goal of simply winning can be misguided. There are many variables in sports that are beyond an individual’s control, such as the performance of other players or the coach’s strategy. Instead, it is more beneficial to focus on smaller, measurable goals that you have control over and that contribute to winning. For example, setting a goal to get 90 percent of serves in can be deconstructed into smaller steps, such as serving five balls to every zone after practice.

Extrinsic Goals

Extrinsic goals, such as seeking popularity or winning subjective awards, are not SMART goals. Research has shown that these types of goals can lead to negative actions and neglecting one’s own needs. Instead, it is recommended to reorient towards measurable steps that have helped others achieve similar awards and extrinsic goals.

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Unrealistic Goals

Many youth athletes believe that putting in an extraordinary amount of time and effort is necessary to achieve their goals. However, this mindset can lead to a higher risk of injury, counterproductive training, and sacrifices in other areas of life. It’s important to set realistic goals and view success as a series of steps. Gradually increasing performance over time is more effective than pushing to the limits at every training session.

Goals That Harm

Goals that compromise player safety or go against the rules of the game should never be set. Harmful goals, such as trying to humiliate opponents or intentionally injure them, not only violate league rules but also have serious consequences for the athlete. Similarly, goals that harm the team’s unity or performance should be avoided. Setting goals that prioritize personal preferences over the team’s success can hinder overall progress.

Remember, setting the right goals is crucial for team success. By focusing on SMART goals, avoiding extrinsic or unrealistic goals, and prioritizing the well-being of teammates, you can help your team achieve their full potential.


Q: How can I help my team avoid goal abandonment?
A: To avoid goal abandonment, encourage your team to set smaller, measurable goals that they have control over and contribute to winning. This approach keeps motivation high and allows individuals to track their progress effectively.

Q: What should I do if my team is setting harmful goals?
A: If your team is setting goals that compromise player safety or harm team dynamics, it’s important to refocus towards goals that are healthy, within their control, and aligned with the team’s success. Encourage them to prioritize teamwork and fair play.

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Setting the right goals is crucial for team success in sports. It is important to avoid common pitfalls such as outcome-based and extrinsic goals, unrealistic expectations, and harmful objectives. By focusing on SMART goals, prioritizing individual and team well-being, and fostering a supportive environment, teams can enhance their performance and achieve long-term success. Help your teammates set the right goals and contribute to a positive and enjoyable sporting experience for everyone involved.

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