How to Meet Your Athletic Goals

Meeting your athletic goals increases your motivation and self-confidence. But not everyone knows what to do to make that happen. Learn more about it here!
How to Meet Your Athletic Goals

Last update: 19 August, 2020

Athletic goals are the principal source of motivation for an athlete. During their training, every competitor has to establish both short term and long-term goals. If these goals are well-planned, they can become goals that can mobilize an athlete to act.

Athletic goals are challenges. These can orient an athlete to acquire or perfect their abilities. It’s also possible to orient yourself to be successful in competitions and achieve more. In other words, there are ego-oriented challenges.

The main psychological technique to meet your goals is establishing objectives. This technique is based upon defining goals with criteria that’ll maximize the probability of achieving them. To really take advantage, your goals need to be set with the help of a sports psychologist.

There are multiple criteria that outline the establishment of goals. The decision to keep some goals in mind versus others will depend on what you are trying to achieve. Even so, psychologists consider that there are some fundamental tips you should pay attention to.

Athletic goals: criteria to consider

Below are some helpful acronyms to help you formulate your goals. In each acronym, the letters correspond to the characteristics that need to be present and that’ll maximize the probability of success.

S.M.A.R.T. Criteria

This is the most utilized criteria for establishing goals. Its use goes beyond the world of sports and extends to the workplace, education, and personal goal-setting.

Woman training
  • Specific: the outlined goals need to refer to a concrete aspect and need to be well defined. To achieve specific goals, ask yourself a question: what is it that I want to achieve? 
  • Measurable: there needs to be some sort of evaluation to know if you’ve met your goal. In addition, measurable goals have positive repercussions for self-esteem because they show individual progress.
  • Attainable: goals have to be within your ability. Goals that are too demanding or unattainable only generate frustration and lower your motivation.
  • Relevant: the goal needs to be related to your athletic practice and be personally important for the athlete.
  • Time-limited: this point consists of establishing both short and long-term goals. That’s to say that you need to establish a concrete time limit to reach your goals.

Overly-demanding goals only generate frustration and can lower your motivation.

C.L.E.A.R. Criteria: athletic goals

  • Challenging: the goal needs to have a certain level of difficulty. Goals that are too easy don’t motivate you, but those that are overly difficult will generate frustration and anxiety.
  • Legal: every goal needs to keep in mind the legal mark in context. In the case of sports, this implies eliminating any challenge that involves attacking your rivals or doping.
  • Emotional: goals that have an emotional component to them are more stimulating. But you have to be careful, it’s also not desirable to set goals with a large emotional charge.
  • Appropriate: this criteria refers to the coherency between objectives. All objectives that you formulate need to be compatible with each other, not contradictory.
  • Refinable: goals aren’t dogmas. They have to be readjusted depending on personal and environmental circumstances. Once you’ve started progressing, your goals should also increase in difficulty so that you maintain a certain level of motivation.
Mental tricks to meet your goals

P.U.R.E. Criteria

  • Positively stated: its much more efficient to make goals from a place of affirmations instead of negations. Affirmations motivate you to reach a reward, while negations are in place to avoid punishment.
  • Understood: the athlete needs to understand perfectly what the goal is that they want to achieve. Confusions about the goal or how to reach it will generate distractions and loss of time.
  • Relevant: the goal needs to be pertinent and important for the athlete. The more involved the athlete is in defining their goals, the more personal significance it’ll have for them.
  • Ethical: you not only have to consider the legality of your goals, but also the personal ethics of each one. The goals that cause an ethical conflict will create a state of doubt that impedes action.

Establishing good athletic goals is no easy task

Although the majority of athletes don’t find it difficult to say what they want to achieve, defining goals and making a plan of action isn’t so easy. That’s why psychologists, athletes, and trainers need to work together offering advice, keeping in mind the physical, technical, tactical, and psychological aspects at play.

Finally, it’s important to know that the technique of establishing objectives isn’t only useful to meet your athletic goals and increase your motivation. It’s also useful for processes such a the recovery period after an injury. 

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Doran, G. T. (1981). “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management’s goals and objectives”. Management Review. 70 (11): 35–36.
  • Smith, A. (2009). Los criterios SMART: El método para fijar objetivos con éxito.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.