S.M.A.R.T. Goal Setting Principles
By Kyle Johnson
It's a good idea to set goals with athletes of any age. Goal-setting helps improve athletes' motivation and commitment, helps them stay focused on what to accomplish, helps them assess strengths and weaknesses, as well as track their performance and improvement during a season.
Both the athletes and the coach should be involved in the process. In the right setting, it’s a good idea for the parents to be involved so they know what the team and their child goals are from the being. This allows the parent to know what their kid is working towards and puts the parent in a place where they can assist their child in ways that the coach may not be able too. Example, practice at home.
1. Set. – This is obviously the first step. By using the information provided later, (Outcome Goals > Process Goals, SMART Goal Setting), you can ensure that you are on the right track to success.
2. Do. – You now put your goals into action. In order to get better, you must put in the time and effort. Once you have gone through the initial goal setting process, now you must do the work. Most are good at setting goals. Few are good at following through and doing the work necessary to achieve their goals. You either do the work, or you don’t. You either get better, or you won’t. This is where you will do your Process Goals on a daily/weekly basis.
3. Review. – This is a very important part of the process. If you do not take the time to review, then how will you know if you have gotten better or not? What worked in helping you achieve your goals? What did not work well and detracted from your level of success? What changes would you make during the next round of the goal setting process? What will you do to make sure that you get better results the next time around?
4. Repeat. – It is important to have both short term and long term goals. After the completion of such periods, the Goal Setting Process has only begun. To really reach your total peak performance you must be willing to repeat the process over and over again.How to Set Goals
Stay prioritized when figuring out and planning your goals. This may become hard to manage as things come up. School, work, family, friends, personal time, and of coarse your goal. It’s of the most importance that you stand-up for yourself, and be sure to keep your core values in check.
Take the time to write down your own values. Think about if your are really living up to who you believe you should be. In writing them down, you will be able to look at it as a reference, so you can see the progress you are making, or what you need to work a little harder on. It is key that if you are not living up to your standards that you don't get feel so doomed. There’s no mistakes only happy accidents. Pick up the pieces that you may drop and start over again.
This step is a must before you begin to set any goal; in fact living your values is a goal. It’s what makes you different from anyone else, it defines who you are. Striving to be better today than you were yesterday is a never ending process. Bare in mind that NOTHING is ever 100% perfect. There is always something you can work on within yourself.
“My goal is for our team to win State Cup next summer.” Many players start with a big grand goal like the previous statement. Unfortunately, many do not know how to properly progress from there. They do not know how to break down the big ‘Outcome” goal in smaller, manageable goals. The result is that they dream big, but do not do the work necessary to achieve their goals.
Outcome Goals vs. Process Goals
Outcome Goals – This is often our starting point. Outcome Goals are those big dreams; descriptions of the ultimate outcomes. Some examples may include: winning State Cup and advancing to Regionals, making in high school, playing Division 1 college soccer, etc.
This type of goal is great for setting our direction. Goals that fall into this category will stretch us and cause us to think bigger and more creative thoughts. They can break us out of our comfort zones, and force us to ask bigger and better questions.
However, Outcome Goals are often out of our control. They are frequently controlled by others. An athlete may have an outstanding performance and not win a contest because other athletes have performed even better. Conversely, an athlete may perform poorly and still win if all other athletes perform at a lower level. We can further break down goals into Process Goals. Although Process Goals cannot guarantee the success of an Outcome goal, they will greatly increase your chances.
Process Goals - A Process Goal is a specific, achievable short term outcome (usually daily). "What can I accomplish TODAY?" is the question answered by a process goal. Process goals move us immediately into action. They give us clear achievable outcomes for today. They remove all procrastination and excuse.
Unlike Outcome Goals, Process Goals are completely in the control of the player. You either do the work, or you don’t. Some examples may include:
Become a better dribbler. Process Goal: Spend at least 15m a day, 5 days a week outside of team practice, practicing dribbling skills in the basement. (This example is called a hint)
Improve endurance. Process Goal: Spend at least 15-20m doing cardio type exercise routines at least 3 times a week.
“Focus on the PROCESS….and the OUTCOME will take care of itself.”
SMART Goal Setting (Specific, Measurable, Adjustable, Realistic and Time-based) 
When setting goals, you will have more success if you follow the SMART acronym.
Specific –Make goals as specific as possible. Specifics help us to focus our efforts and clearly define what we are going to do. Specific is the What, Why, and How of the SMART model.
WHAT are you going to do? Use action words such as direct, organize, coordinate, lead, develop, plan, build etc.
WHY is this important to do at this time? What do you want to ultimately accomplish?
HOW are you going to do it? (By…)
Ensure the goals you set are very specific, clear and easy.
Weak example of Goal setting: “I want to score more goals.”
Better example: “I want to score more goals. To do so I need to become better at shooting the ball. To accomplish this I need to improve my instep kicking. To improve my instep shot I will practicing by taking 100 instep shots per week for the next month.”
Measurable – Set measurable goals. Choose a goal with measurable progress, so that you can see the change occur. When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to the continued effort required to reach your goals.
Weak example: “I want to improve my endurance.” (…How will you know that you achieved it? How do you measure improved endurance?)
Better example: “I want to improve my endurance. To do so, I will do cardio workouts 3 times per week. I will record how long I exercise in my journal. I will match or exceed my time exercising each session. I will never do less.”
Attainable – Goals must be attainable. Goals you set which are too far out of your reach, you probably won’t commit to doing. The best goals require players to stretch a bit to achieve them, but they aren’t extreme. Goals that are set too high or too low become meaningless, and players naturally come to ignore them.
Weak example: “I want to add 30 yards to the length of my kicks over the next month.” This is an example of a goal that is nearly impossible to achieve.
Better example: “I want to add 30 yards to the length of my kicks over the course of the year. I will try to add 10-15 yards by the end of indoor (April) and another 10-15 yards by the end of the summer (July).”
Realistic – Goals need to be realistic. It’s important to honestly evaluate yourself. Do you have the ability and commitment to make your dream come true? Or does it need a little adjustment?
Weak example: “I will spend 5 hours a day, every day working to improve my soccer skills.” Even with the best of intentions, this is obviously impossible to do unless you are a professional athlete. There are just too many other things to do in a day.
Better example: “I will do my best to spend as much time as possible working to improve my soccer skills. I will try and spend 10-20m a day, 2-3 times a week. I understand that some weeks I will just be too busy.”
Time-Based – Goals need to have a time frame. Having a set amount of time will give your goals structure. Some people spend a lot of time talking about what they want to do, someday. But, without an end date there is no sense of urgency, no reason to take any action today. Having a specific time frame gives you the motivation to get started. It also helps you monitor your progress. Some goals should be based short-term (a few weeks to a month or two) and some goals should be long-term (several months to a year or even years).
Weak example: “I want to master more attacking dribbling moves and use them in a real game.”
Better example: “I want to master and OWN 4 different attacking dribbling moves by the end of the year. Before I can consider a dribbling skill OWNED, I must successfully execute the move at least 10 times in real games. I plan to master the Scissors in one month. I plan to master the Rivelino (Rivelino is a player; to ‘master the Rivelino’ means to bend/curve the ball) by the end of month two. I plan to master the Maradona by the end of month 4. Finally, I plan to master the Matthews by the end of month 6.”
Do the Work
Now that your goals have been set, you must put in the time and effort. You will either do the work, or you will not. You will either get better, or you won’t. If soccer is your passion, if you truly want to play at the highest levels for as long as possible, then you must apply a high work ethic as often as possible. The elite players in every sport are often the hardest workers.
 It is generally accepted that the SMART acronym was first written down in November 1981 in Spokane, Washington. George T. Doran, a consultant and former Director of Corporate Planning for Washington Water Power Company published a paper titled "There's a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management's Goals and Objectives".