Some athletes present with big dreams whilst others have none. For some, the interest in the sport turns into a dream of playing on the big stage at a very early age. There is a commitment, a desire, ambition, and the dream to be the best that they can be. The coach must encourage ambition. I often recite the many examples that you hear of where an athlete will say, “Many, many people told me it couldn’t be done, but I wouldn’t be denied. I had this dream, and my passion and determination to realise this dream saw me through.” Dreams and strong ambitions must be nurtured.
As athletes develop in higher levels of sporting involvement, goal setting plays an important role in providing the stepping-stones for these individuals in reaching their ambitions and dreams. It is important for coaches to educate players into understanding the merits of goal setting.
- Goals must be achievable targets. If the goals are unrealistic, it can do more damage than good. As a coach, you must avoid asking too much of the player – the carrot being too far ahead of the donkey. The end result will be that the individual will stop chasing and say, “I can’t do this. It’s beyond my ability. I’m not good enough. I’ll take another path.” But as long as those challenges are achievable and you can progress, and the athlete or the player recognises that progress, then the enthusiasm to continue will be enhanced.
- Goals must be individual specific. With regards to the coach and the players’ goal-setting process, having a training program that fits the progress of each individual player is important in establishing those goals.
- Goals must be set for the individual and the team. In the team environment, I would set both individual as well as team goals, but even this process depends on the level of the athlete you are coaching. There’s a big difference in the process I would take the Olympic team through compared to a younger age-group team. Regardless, if done correctly, the results are there for all to see.
- an extract from Secrets of Winning Coaches Revealed