Goal Setting Culture
If you think back to the last project you completed, would you have finished that project if you didn't have a plan or goal for the final product? Would you have finished if you didn't know what the results might be? Or, did you finish because you were able to envision the results, because you were able to "see" how the project would take place, and because you were able to understand the process necessary for your work to be complete? This is exactly the scenario we should be providing for our athletes.
When assessing your athletes do you talk about the process we use to get them to the next step, or are you simply telling them the end goal, we want to win championships, or get them to the next level. A simple question to ask yourself is "are we providing stepping stones for them to get there?", or are we taking away steps 2-9 and saying you're on level 1, the goal is 10. That feat is impossible for anyone to see and envision the process to get to that final destination. Players need a plan.
The good news is it's not very difficult for you to get your program changed from one where kids don't see any process to an environment where athletes set and make their own goals to break them. Being a competitor yourself it is easy to realize why goal setting is so important. Athletes see goals and they love breaking them, they love seeing obstacles and crushing them. The phrase "to face adversity" is thrown around a lot in coaching, and when we look at our program are we instilling the ability to face and conquer adversity in every aspect of the game, or do we just use that phrase when we're down by 5 in the final innings. If we provide stepping stones and goals for athletes to break through we create a level of adversity that is built into our program. We no longer have to worry about whether your players have been in a situation where they failed and had to push harder. We instead know that they have been taught to be mentally tough, to drive themselves, and they have given that effort time after time.
Having said that, the goal setting process doesn't just mean throwing up some numbers that look good on a board and say "get there". Every kid is different, and therefore should have different goals. By having each athlete set and create their own goals with your guidance you are creating a level of buy-in that you wouldn't get by having them just show up and work. Goal setting takes time and effort from both you and the athlete to make sure you're setting stepping stones that are not too far apart. We want them to reach their goals. It may take time, and they may fail along the way, A LOT, but that's ok, that's the process. We want to make them attainable, yet not easy enough to where they don't have to progress.
Some of the easiest ways to instill a goal setting process in your program is by taking individual assessments over Velo, Exit Velo, Mobility, Strength, etc.... Once you have taken the tests you create a baseline for the athlete. After taking the tests you have completed the easiest and first step of a goal setting process. Creating a baseline will now let you and the athlete take a look at the numbers and come up with a S.M.A.R.T. goal for them. The reason both you and the athlete need to be involved in the process is simple. You have a general idea of what that athlete lacks in, and the athlete has an idea of where they want to be. Taking both of your visions for their success and the objective data from tests you can come up with a goal for their next testing session. It's important to have an overall goal, something that may be long term, and a short term goal for possibly the next testing date. If you only have one I would choose the short term, and after retesting creating another short term goal.
The importance of creating goals does not solely rely on the athlete, or you as the coach. If you tell them their goal they will likely have no investment into this process, and same goes for the other way around. Meeting with athletes and seeing their goals and coming to a decision together on what they need to be will create an investment for you, trying to create an environment to meet the goals that make the team better, and them, working to break their own goal. The important part is the investment from each of you, if there is no investment then the goals will fall by the wayside and neither party will invest into the goals, but if you invest time into each athlete and meet individually, or in small groups, they will understand the importance of this process.
In conclusion there are steps that I would use in order to get your program using goals and working to create a systematic process for your athletes.
1: Assess your athletes. Pick some strength tests, flexibility, baseball specific tests, and record that information. If you don't know what to assess take things you know baseball players need Velo, Exit Velo, 60, Home-1st....And start there. Any objective data you collect will help.
2: Find what areas you need to attack first, and explain to the athlete where they lack right now.
3: Communicate with the athlete these baselines and where you want them to be
4: Record the goals you have, and go to work
5: Re-test and Repeat. This is where you get to objectively see what worked and what didn't. There may be some failures in your planning, and the retest will show that. This is an opportunity for you and the athlete to see exactly what steps need to be taken next.
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