Goals- Learning How to Set Them Part One

mint green progress journal closed with silver pen to the right

Goals and Setting Them Part One

GOAL-SETTING! Goals are one of the most common and important aspects of mental performance. Goal-setting will be split into three parts: SMART Goals, WOOP Goals, and Creating a Goal Ladder.

In this first part, the focus will be on SMART Goals, which is one way to organize and set a goal. SMART is an acronym that helps you set a goal with details. Two important notes with goal-setting is to remember that it is okay if you do not reach every goal and readjust when needed. You are not working towards perfection but rather progress, so sometimes goals need to be readjusted to continue your progress.


S: Specific

You want a goal that is quite specific. EX: make 80% of free throws instead of make more free throws. Having specificity to your goal helps you to recognize what you still need to work on and when you have successfully reached it.

M: Measurable

Like specific, the measurable part of a goal means there is a way to know if you have made it. With the goal of making 80% of your free throws, the measurable part is keeping track of makes and misses. All goals should have a way of being measured, whether that is counting, timing, or measuring in other ways.

A: Attainable

An attainable goal is something that is possible. For example, when you first started basketball, you had to learn everything, so you weren’t expecting to amazing at the onset. So, using the same example from above, if you only make 20% of your free throws, start off with a smaller goal of increasing to 30%, 40%, or 50%. If you make your goal unattainable, you will continually have a negative mindset and that will make it harder to make any of your goals.

R: Realistic

The next step is having your goal be realistic. Similar to attainable, don’t set a goal for something that is impossible. For example, if you only play basketball, why would you set a goal to run a 5:30 mile? One it is not realistic to your sport and it is not something you are training for. Instead set a goal related to what you want to do and that can be physically and mentally done.

T: Timely

The last part of setting a SMART Goal is making a goal that is timely. Timely goals refer to two parts: a timeframe in which it can be done and fits in with your timeline. If you are currently a 20% free throw shooter don’t set your goal for 80% to be met by the end of the week. This could lead to a negative mindset and frustration. It is important to have both short-term and long-term goals, but don’t set the goal so far ahead that by the time you get there, you have changed too much.


I will increase my free throw percentage from 60% to 80% by the end of this season.

I recommend writing down your SMART goal on something you will look at daily and even sharing it with a friend, parent/guardian, and/or a coach. That  way you have accountability and can share in the challenges/triumphs of working towards a goal.

Content Created by Kathryn Colby, M.Ed.

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