Goals are what we strive towards. The most important thing to remember is that goals need to be relevant to your situation only. You need to consider what level of softball you’re playing at, and what you want to achieve. If you play recreational softball or, are on a travel team, mental training is just as important and can be just as beneficial to you regardless of your age or skill level. Your goal setting is about you and your experience. Everyone’s game is important and your goals should reflect your level of involvement not the level you think you should be at.
How you achieve those goals is determined by your planning process and the steps that you take in that planning. Goals must be attainable, measurable, and must be periodically evaluated so that you can make sure you’re on the right track. Setting a time frame and check points will allow you to monitor your progress. If you find that you are having difficulty at any of your check points, then you can simply re-evaluate the goal and make adjustments if you need to.
Goal Setting Steps
- Set your goal
- Set your time frame
- Set your check points to monitor your progress
- If you are struggling re-evaluate goals
- If you are doing well continue on
If your goals are out of reach, it will not only affect your ability to achieve the goals, but will also affect your confidence. To set goals and not achieve them is frustrating and can prevent you from setting new goals. Working hard toward a goal that is not achievable might seem endless and might even contribute to you leaving the sport. The ability to measure your goals, is important in checking your progress and making sure you are on the right track. This allows you to make changes if you need to. Set check points just before the season begins, and watch through the season and then,, after your season is done reflect on your achievements. Use record keeping and notes to evaluate your goals for the next season.
Training goals, or practice goals are usually directed towards physical and technical or softball specific skills training. To increase your strength by 10% for example is a training goal that will help your technical performance in hitting and throwing. Knowing what kind of physical skills benefit your sport and even what energy system is dominant will be important in setting your physical goals. Utilize your coach or athletic trainer as a resource if you are unsure and want to build your specific physical abilities.
Technical and tactical goals are the skills that enable you to play softball. Most times these goals are established by your coach simply by the practises that they schedule and the drills that are scheduled during the practise. By working with your coach or a softball instructor, you can find out where you need to improve and set goals accordingly.
Competition is where all of your skills are put to the test. This is where anxiety and distractions are most likely occur on a larger scale because something is on the line. Add to that the difficulties that come with low confidence and being afraid to perform poorly, this will become the focus instead of feeling the excitement of having fun and performing well. Goal setting for competition should refer to the execution of well established softball skills under stressful situations and keeping your focus through distractions.
By having specific goals set for your competition, it can help you to focus more on the process or just competing instead of worrying about the outcome. Worrying about the score, can create doubt, and fear of failure. Personal goals that are simple and focus on your process will help you to enjoy everything you like about the game.
Your ability to use mental skills during competition will depend on the activities done during the pre-season games and training sessions. Even though you can train by using simulation, the actual real situation can only be experienced during the actual event. By working through the exercises before the season begins, your transition into using these skills during the competitive season will be smooth and effortless.
Goal Setting for Youth
Children need to have simple and easy yet challenging goals for their activities. It’s also important for goals to be focussed on general skills that are not complicated. The best way for them to set goals is to set them so that they feel good about themselves. Children need to feel like they are achieving something and doing things right. By giving them many opportunities to see themselves having success, they will begin building their overall sport confidence which will go a long way later.
Make goals easy for youth to understand and evaluate. This will develop their ability to process the whole concept and steps to effective goal setting. Encourage their goal setting abilities to be used outside of sport as well. This will pay off as they are manoeuvring through school and other achievements.
Goal Setting for Adolescents
These athletes are often entering the specialization phase of softball. Athletes younger than this should still be participating in multi sport activities thus their goals will be more multi skill oriented. As softball specialization approaches, there will be more involvement from coaches and trainers in setting goals that will be most beneficial to their situation and future in softball. For maximum effectiveness their goals should continue to follow the principles of being simple, attainable and measurable.
Adolescents who are not necessarily specializing in softball can use goal setting to help them to prevent anxiety during games. They may chose to not use all of the goal setting activities and might only use the ones geared towards competition. The goals they set might relate to preparations, basic skills like getting in front of the ball, and dealing with anxiety instead of specific physical and advanced technical or tactical goals such as the surprise bunt.
Goal Setting for Adults
You may be a new participant in softball or someone who has played for a long time but just wants to improve your softball experience. As a new player, there are so many aspects of this game that can cause stress. Comparing yourself to others and self awareness are in my experience the two biggest obstacles when entering this complicated game.
Setting goals that are related to your skill level will give you something to strive towards that is related to your personal skills instead of comparing yourself to another player’s skills. By letting yourself be a beginner and by setting achievable goals, you can enjoy true successes based on your own performance and not on what others can do. This is often a very difficult task when we naturally are so aware of our own abilities or inabilities. Share your goals with a supporter what your goals are so that they can help you to celebrate the small successes and stay focussed on your own performance.