Evidence-Based Training: Your Goal Dictates Your Behavior


Do you incorporate goal setting sheets with your athletes? If you answered yes, it is likely that you have received responses from your athletes that may include statements such as “I want to get stronger”, I want to get faster”, “I am going to work harder”, etc?  There is certainly nothing wrong with implementing goal sheets with your athletes and there isn’t anything incorrect regarding the responses listed above.  However these common athlete responses are just the very beginning of setting a complete goal.  


How can you make your goal setting process more efficient?

Incorporate the following questions on your goal setting sheets and include them in the in person follow up conversations with your athletes:


What is your purpose or “why”?

Many athletes overlook the importance of knowing why they are truly competing in athletics, which can eventually lead to many challenges when responding to adversity.  Athletes must find their own meaningful personal purpose that is something other than enjoying winning or gaining the satisfaction of others.  Encourage your athletes to understand the bigger picture of athletics and fall in love with the day to day process of pursuing their goal.  Once the athlete has a concrete definition of their own personal “why” it becomes more of a learning experience they can grow from when adversity strikes. Having a true belief in their purpose will also lead to developing an unconditional passion and joy for the process on their journey towards their goal.

“If your “why” is important enough, you will always find the “how to.”


What specific actions are you willing to commit to in order to achieve your goal?

Encouraging the athlete to envision the process and make a commitment to the specific actions they are willing to accomplish will develop a solid accountability system that you can implement in follow up conversations with the athlete. This will also help you work together with the athlete to help facilitate a measurable and attainable goal for them based on their current experience and knowledge.

“A goal without an action plan is simply a dream,”


How do you plan to measure progress?

Stating that you want to get stronger, faster or improve on specific fundamentals within the athlete’s particular sport is a great start but it does not paint a very clear picture of the process that leads to the goals eventually being accomplished.  Encouraging the athlete to include how many days per week, sets, reps, etc. Additionally including what they plan to add and subtract from their current daily schedule will allow you to have precise elements to measure their exact progress. It is not that the athletes at the highest levels have more time than others, it is the fact that they are more efficient with their time.

“You can’t have a million dollar goal with a minimum wage work ethic,”


Is your action plan evidence based?

An effective action plan must rely on an evidence based model that includes the following 3 elements: 

  • Research
  • Expert opinion
  • Individual characteristics


Incorporating the elements listed above when guiding your athletes through developing their own personal action plans will likely increase the probability of your athletes accomplishing their goals all while they are becoming more passionate about the process rather than the outcome, more committed and more coachable.  Most importantly this process will help you build a solid foundation within your program by developing strong relationships and gaining the trust within your team.


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