What is a Goal?
Going into a competitive season with realistic goals adds motivation, direction and purpose for an athlete.
Going into a competitive season with excessively high expectations adds pressure, anxiety and distraction for an athlete.
Throw adversity into the equation, things change drastically.
First, let’s examine exactly what goals are and how adversity affects the athlete… A goal is a well-defined, measurable, attainable objective.
More importantly, goals are adjustable. If you reach your goal prior to the end of the season, you can set a new objective to work towards.
Likewise, if an unavoidable circumstance strikes, such as an injury, you can adjust your goal accordingly… Maybe you need to extend the date in which you want to accomplish your goal.
Expectations are rigid. Expectations are usually written in statements such as, “I have to…,” “I must…” and “I need to…”
When it comes to expectations, there is no flexibility. No matter the circumstance, the expectation remains the same.
Expectations generate tension, anxiety and pressure.
These are the very things that interfere with performance and cause athletes to feel that they constantly fall short. When an athlete with unrealistic expectations experiences adversity, they become devastated and feel like a failure.
Every athlete will experience some degree of adversity.
Athletes with realistic goals feel they still have some degree of control and can alter their objectives in a way that keeps them working towards something positive.
Working towards a well-defined, measurable, attainable, adjustable objective helps athletes stay motivated, confident and positive through a wide range of circumstances.
High expectations and injury derailed Philadelphia Sixers’ small forward Zhaire Smith in his 2018-19 rookie season.
Smith was selected with the sixteenth overall pick by the Phoenix Suns in the 2018 NBA draft, then immediately traded to the Sixers. The Sixers had hopes that Smith would be able to contribute to a playoff run.
Smith had high expectations for his first year in the NBA and that pressure caused him to play tight and hesitant last pre-season. Smith was further derailed by a fracture in his foot and an allergic reaction.
Smith played in only eight games during the year. Smith has changed his perspective for the upcoming year and is focused on doing the little things to help the team.
SMITH: “I’m coming in, 16th pick, first-rounder. I’m coming in like, ‘I’m going to drop 30.’ But this year, I’m like, ‘Let’s just have fun and have the game come to me, do the little things and help the team win.’”
It is important, prior to each season, to sit down and write your goals for the season. Make sure those goals are realistic and attainable by the end of the season.
Understand that your goals are fluid. That means your goals are not etched in stone and can be adjusted, if necessary.
With sound goals, you can maintain high confidence, stay focused and sustain your motivation through the season.
Focus on Goals, Not Expectations
The first step is to challenge what you want to accomplish during the upcoming season:
Ask yourself, “Realistically, can I accomplish THIS within the time constraints of this season?”
Consult with your coach or mental game coach and write down specific, attainable, measurable goals for the season and a plan of action.
If adversity strikes, re-evaluate with your coaches and adjust your goals if necessary.
Identify the expectations that lead to pressure and frustration and commit to parking your expectations in the locker room. Instead, focus on small manageable, process goals when you perform.
Improve Concentration in Sports!
If you’re an athlete who is frequently distracted, loses focus in competition, or wants to learn more about how to focus better under pressure, The Focused Athlete is for you!
Concentration and the ability to focus under adversity is what championship athletes do best.
It only takes one distraction to enter your mind for you to lose a critical point, miss a putt, or lose a second off your lap time. You cannot afford to let distractions run wild in your mind and cause you to make errors at critical times in the game!
The Focused Athlete is a complete system to teach you how to focus like a champion and harness the power of a zone focus every tie you step on the playing field, court, track or course in practice and games!
This workbook and CD program consists of 2 audio CDs that include 14 days of focus boosting exercises and a simple to follow workbook that guides you through each of the 14 days, helps you apply strategies, and customizes the exercises to your personal focus challenges.
- How to quickly identify distractions that sabotage your concentration and how to quickly refocus after distractions.
- How to use pre-shot routines before shots or serves to help you be more task-focused instead of worrying about results.
- How to use pregame routines to help you harness the power of zone concentration before competition.
Learn more about one of our most popular CD programs in The Confident Athlete Series…
What are customers saying about our mental game programs?
“As a result of reading and implementing ‘The Confident Athlete Series,’ I am once again enjoying golf and letting bad shots roll off my shoulders and appreciating my good shots without attaching expectations. Thanks Dr. Cohn!”
~Stu Blasius, P.G.A. Golf Professional
“Your response to the throwing problem in front of the coach covers so many situations in life…that is the beauty of playing sports…the life learning experiences. Keep up the good work…you are the best mental coach.”
~Bill Brennan, sports parent