Lets about Goal setting and who sets the goals, who monitors them and who actually achieves them or strives to achieve them.
Most of us are familiar with goal setting. We and our softball players hear about it almost everywhere we turn. In school, at home, at work if they are working and at many activities outside of the structured ones. It may start with, what do you want to do after school? Where do you want to play ball next year? What do you want to do with softball, do you want a scholarship? Do you just want to enjoy the game and have fun?
I am imagining that some of you might have cringed when I said the enjoy the game and have fun goal. That’s because for some reason many think that there has to be an ultimate goal in this game. Some sort of reward like a scholarship or a national team tryout or even to play in the Olympics or the national pro fastpitch league. But who’s goal is that? The truth is that the player needs to make that decision. Our goal should be for them to enjoy the game and hopefully be playing into adulthood at some level regardless of what that level might be.
Often goals player goals are set by someone else. A coach or a parent and even friends can have an influence on a desired outcome for a softball player. The point is, if we don’t allow the players to set their goals from the heart, they are not going to be as committed to the goal when it counts. They might be committed while things are going well and everyone is happy, but when things are not going so well, do they really want to push hard passed the difficulties?
By allowing the players to chose their own goals, and plan their process with assistance if necessary in attaining that goal, they will take ownership of their path to get there. Often goals that players are working towards are set and guided by parents. This is most times done of course because they love their children, however they may not be aligned with what the player wants from the game. The best way to help a player in setting and attaining their goals is to guide them in their process.
What I mean is to ask questions. Why do you want to achieve that goal? This will tell you if the goal is because they want it or because someone else does or because they want to be like a teammate or a friend who has the same goal. How realistic is the goal? By having the player explore the potential to reach the goal, you can assist her in making sure the goal is attainable. The other thing we can do is to help the player to assess their progress. By teaching them about self awareness and record keeping, the player can learn how to monitor their progress and make adjustments if necessary.
One of the important things we can provide for players working towards a goal is the resources to get there. If the previous steps have been taken and she is on her way, give her access to the resources she needs to move forward. As a coach I was always available to spend extra time on offensive or defensive skills. Parents can encourage their children to contact the coach to spend extra time. Most will not deny an athlete who is working on their own to improve their skills.
Look at a timeline if required to reach a specific goal such as strength, and mental or technical goals. A timeline is a good idea also if the player is wanting to attain a scholarship. Once that timeline is set, determine the markers and let the player do the work to achieve the little goals along the way. This will give her ownership and success will mean that much more to her.
The most important consideration is adaptability. If a player is not reaching the milestones, it’s time to re evaluate. Maybe a scholarship is not actually something that is going to happen for what could be a variety of reasons. We need to help her to modify the goals and to make sure she is still enjoying the game with her friends and continues to work hard to improve. Success feels good regardless of the outcome of that success.