As an athlete, how often do you become overwhelmed or lose motivation? If it happens more often than you’d like, then it’s time to create goals for yourself. And not just any goals, but SMART goals.
Athletes should strive to push themselves beyond their limits, and SMART goals allow you to improve your overall performance and reach your full potential.
Without goals, you risk losing everything you’ve worked for. Sports success would be far from reach, and you would never achieve your objectives anytime soon.
This guide will cover several examples of SMART goals for athletes to succeed. But first, it’s essential to figure out what SMART goals are.
What is a SMART Goal?
All athletes should aim to understand SMART goals. The SMART goal method is a practical framework to help you achieve your goals more efficiently. For those unfamiliar, SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based.
You must follow each of the 5 criteria to have a high chance of succeeding in athletics. Let’s dive deeper into what each component means:
A specific goal is clearly defined and easy to understand. That means there is zero room for vagueness and ambiguity. For example, a SMART goal could be “to lose 15 pounds in three months.”
Notice how this goal describes how many pounds to lose, whereas a vague goal like “lose weight” isn’t detailed at all. You wouldn’t have any idea where even to start.
Your goals should ideally be measurable. That means you should be able to track progress, which will help you stay the course toward goal achievement.
Plus, measurable goals give you a dose of motivation because you see precisely how much progress you’ve made, big or small. Without any metrics, it is simply too easy to become discouraged.
When developing goals, make sure they are achievable. If a goal is too lofty, it will be discouraging and may lead you to give up on pursuing goals altogether. On the other hand, if a goal is too easy, it may not be worthwhile. The key is to find the balance between the two.
The goal-setting process should consider the “why” for achieving their goals. You must ask, “Why is this goal important to me?” or “How does the goal align with my overall values and interests?” It’s not enough to create achievable and specific goals. It should also be a result or outcome you genuinely care about.
Ensure that your goals have a deadline in place. Why? Because without an end date, it’s easy to put off your journey to success. But having a specific deadline creates a sense of urgency to move you along.
Of course, give yourself plenty of time to reach your goals. Remember that Rome was not built in a single day.
11 Examples of SMART Goals for Athletes
Regardless of whether you are an elite basketball player or a novice athlete, there is plenty of room to elevate your performance. But you need goals to set the foundation for success in sports.
Here you will find several examples of SMART goals for athletes:
1. Improve Free-Throw Shooting
“In 6 months, I hope to improve my free-throw shooting percentage from 50 percent to 70 percent by practicing two hours every day.”
Specific: The goal is clear and concise, specifying what the athlete hopes to achieve, how they plan on doing it, and over what time frame.
Measurable: The athlete can track their progress by taking note of their free-throw shooting percentage at the start and end of 6 months.
Attainable: With consistent practice, it is achievable for the athlete to improve their shooting percentage by 20 percent.
Relevant: Free-throw shooting is a relevant skill for athletes looking to increase accuracy, as it can make or break a game.
Time-based: The goal is time-bound, giving the athlete a timeline of 6 months to work on their shooting.
2. Increase Cardio Endurance
“Within a month, I want to increase my cardio endurance by running two miles in 20 minutes by running three times a week.”
Specific: The SMART goal is specific. It describes how the athlete will increase their cardio endurance within the deadline.
Measurable: The athlete will be able to measure their progress by the distance and time they can run within the specified time frame.
Attainable: This is realistic and achievable with time and directed effort.
Relevant: The goal is appropriate for the athlete’s desire to improve their cardio endurance.
Time-based: Goal completion is expected by the end of one month.
3. Improve Overall Strength
“By the end of four months, I will strive to increase the number of repetitions I can perform of an exercise, or the amount of weight lifted, by 5% each week.”
Specific: Your goal is to increase the number of repetitions or the amount of weight lifted.
Measurable: The athlete will increase their performance by 5% each week.
Attainable: This is possible if the athlete commits to the exercise routine.
Relevant: Increasing strength is essential for many athletes, as it helps them perform better.
Time-based: The objective should be completed within four months.
4. Prioritize Better Diet and Nutrition
“For two months, I want a better diet and nutrition by eating three healthy meals a day with snacks in between meals. I will plan my meals ahead of time and make sure to have healthy snacks with me at all times.”
Specific: You’re looking to improve your diet by eating three meals daily with snacks.
Measurable: You can measure this by the food types and how often you eat them.
Attainable: This is an achievable goal because it’s a change in your eating habits that you can control.
Relevant: Achieving this goal will improve your overall health and nutrition as an athlete.
Time-based: Expect to accomplish this goal within two months.
5. Avoid Injuries
“To avoid sustaining injuries, I’ll warm up for 10 minutes before each practice and game by doing stretches on a regular basis.”
Specific: You will warm up and stretch before and after practices and games.
Measurable: You can easily track whether or not you’ve spent 10 minutes stretching.
Attainable: Warming up and stretching are simple activities that can be quickly completed.
Relevant: Making these small steps will help you minimize the chances of sports injuries.
Time-based: This goal is ongoing. It should be completed before and after each practice and game.
6. Develop Hand-Eye Coordination
“I will use a medicine ball to improve my hand-eye coordination for three weeks. I should stand 10 feet away from a wall and throw the ball at it, catching it before it bounces off the ground. I’ll continue to do this for 25 minutes every day.”
Specific: The goal states what the athlete should do to improve hand-eye coordination.
Measurable: The athlete will throw and catch the ball 30 times in 25 minutes.
Attainable: You should be able to complete the task with some practice.
Relevant: The goal is relevant to the athlete’s objective of improving hand-eye coordination.
Time-based: This should be completed within 25 minutes every day for three weeks.
7. Become More Explosive
“Until the next month, I’ll work on becoming more explosive by practicing jump squats three times weekly. I will ensure I’m doing the exercise correctly by having a coach or experienced athlete check my form. I will also record my jump height after each squat session.”
Specific: You have precise actions available—practice jump squats and record your progress.
Measurable: Make sure you practice at least three times each week.
Attainable: Assuming that you practice regularly, this is a reasonable goal.
Relevant: This goal relates to your primary objective of developing explosive power.
Time-based: You should expect goal attainment within the next month.
8. Have Better Balance
“I aim to attain a better balance within three months. I will improve my balance by working on my single-leg stance for 30 seconds every day.”
Specific: This SMART goal is focused on improving your balance by working on your single-leg stance.
Measurable: Track progress by the time you spend on your single-leg stance.
Attainable: This is a feasible goal for any athlete willing to invest time.
Relevant: This is pertinent to improving your balance and overall coordination.
Time-based: You must pursue this goal every day for three whole months.
9. Increase Your Hip Extension
“In the next 5 months, I want to increase my hip extension by 10 degrees. This will help me to improve my agility performance.”
Specific: This statement outlines what you need to do (increase hip extension) and by how much (by 10 degrees).
Measurable: You could measure your progress by checking your hip extension against the 10-degree mark.
Attainable: Increasing hip extension by 10 degrees is realistic.
Relevant: The goal is relevant to being able to increase your agility performance.
Time-based: There is a 5-month deadline to reach this goal.
10. Get 8 Hours of Sleep Every Night
“Over the course of two months, I will go to bed at 10 PM every night and sleep for 8 hours straight to be well-rested for practices and games. To avoid distractions, I’ll put my phone on Do Not Disturb mode an hour before bedtime.”
Specific: The SMART goal is clear. It tells the athlete precisely what to do to get 8 hours of sleep every night.
Measurable: The athlete will be able to measure their progress by the number of hours of sleep they get every night.
Attainable: This is realistic and achievable with time and directed effort.
Relevant: The goal is appropriate for the athlete’s desire to be well-rested for practices and games.
Time-based: Goal attainment will be met by the end of two months.
11. Foster Healthy Interactions With Teammates
“I will improve my interactions with teammates by joining in on at least two conversations per practice and responding to questions when asked. I’ll refrain from using negative words like ‘can’t’ or ‘never.’ “
Specific: The goal is to be more communicative with teammates during practices.
Measurable: You will know whether you’ve joined in on two conversations per practice.
Attainable: This is a realistic goal as it only requires you to lead some conversations.
Relevant: Interacting with teammates is pertinent to success on the team.
Time-based: This is ongoing and should be something you strive to do regularly.
Setting and achieving goals is integral to any successful athlete’s journey. Making the brilliant decision to develop SMART goals will help athletes increase their likelihood of meeting their targets.
Vague goals such as “improve my performance” or “run faster” probably won’t lead to success. Luckily, SMART goals are detailed enough to encourage you to stay the course even when things get tough.
At the end of the day, accomplishing goals requires discipline and hard work, but the rewards are immense. So factor in the SMART goals examples above to boost yourself to new performance levels.
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