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A-level PE - Unit 3: Preparation for Optimum Sports Performance: Goal Setting

Resources to support A-level PE, Unit 3

Goal-Setting for Sport Performance Enhancement


Goal-setting can be an important part of any athlete’s training plan, whether their goal is to improve their physical skills, mental skills, or just get more enjoyment out of their sport. Setting goals can help athletes focus on what’s most important, increase their effort and motivation to stick with their plan, consider new strategies regarding how to accomplish their goals and help them track their progress. As anyone who has ever set a New Year’s resolution knows, however, setting goals is easy; reaching goals is tough. That’s why, for example, research shows that about 50% of people who begin an exercise program discontinue it within six months.

Problems With Goal-Setting

There are at least three problems that make effective goal-setting difficult for athletes. First, goal-setting isn’t very exciting. Most athletes are eager to learn mental skills that are seen as more interesting, like imagery training, for instance. Unfortunately, goal-setting has gotten a bad reputation as being too simple to be of any help and too boring to spend time doing. Second, many people think goal-setting procedures take too much time. They may feel that they have such limited time that it would be better to spent the time practicing their sport. Third, and perhaps most importantly, few athletes know how to set the right kind of goals. Many well-intentioned people mistakenly set outcome goals (more about this later).  Because they don’t know how to set effective goals, they end up abandoning them in frustration after a short time.  Let’s take a look at these problems more closely and outline some strategies for how to deal with them.


Ian Thorpe - Beneath the suit - goal setting

Goal Setting

‘My idea of paradise is a straight line to a goal’- Friedrich Nietzsche

Every successful person whether that be an artist, sports person or leader has set goals which have driven and directed their efforts in their quest to be the best they can be. Goal setting is an extremely powerful technique for enhancing performance so it is one of the most important strategies you can implement for success in any environment. Goal setting helps to focus attention and it is critical tomaintain and enhance motivation. Goal setting gives direction both in the short term and the long term and you can see success as you achieve your short term goals. This increases yourconfidence as you are being success and achieving. So if you don’t set goals you must start today. However goal setting must be implemented correctly.

How does Goal Setting Work?

1. Goals direct attention to tasks at hand and highlights what needs to be completed. It allows you to implement strategies to develop specific elements of the business that need to be utilise to complete the goal.

2. Goals mobilise your efforts. You will put your efforts into moving towards the goal as you are provided with the incentive of completing the goal.

3. Goals prolong your persistence because you are rewarded with incentives as you achieve your goals. People who set goals stick at tasks for longer as they are achieving smaller goals that combined form larger goals.

4. Goals foster the development of new learning strategies. In order achieve the goals you may need to develop new strategies to complete the task at hand.

Types of Goal

There are 3 types of goal that a team leader needs to be aware of.

1. Outcome– This is the end result. For example getting the order ready for dispatch by designated time.
2. Process – This is the actions needed to execute the goal correctly.
3. Performance – These are the standards independent of other variables.