Goal-Setting for Young Athletes

Posted by Tim Nash on Mar 14, 2019 8:14:42 AM

You know what’s interesting? Watch a group of 12- and 13-year-old female soccer players go through a goal-setting session.

There was toughly 50 of them in a conference room which was not built with acoustical quality to match the high-pitch decibel level girls that age can reach. Once they quieted down, there were (mostly) all business.Forrest Collier, the Director of Soccer at North Carolina Fusion Greensboro, led the session and began by asking the girls how many of them had set goals for the soccer season. Every hand shot up. He asked them to share some of their goals. Some, like reaching a juggling milestone or scoring a certain number of goals, were expected. Goals to learn to play more positions and to “get hurt less,” were not.

When the girls arrived the received three index cards and a pen. On the first card, they wrote three soccer goals. That card should be put in a plastic bag and kept in their soccer bag, Collier said.

Collier explained that each goal needs an action plan, a roadmap detailing the path they would follow to reach their goal. Using two of their goals the girls mentioned, he explained that getting hurt less, while a great idea and a worthy pursuit, was not something over which the player could have much control. But reaching a certain number of juggles was. Players with that goal could improve a little each day on the way to reaching their target.

Later the girls were asked to list three goals for school using the second index card. Collier told the girls that the card with school goals should go in a plastic bag and be put in their backpack or school locker. The third card was for life goals. That one should be kept in their room or somewhere they see it every day.

It was striking how specific and targeted the school and life goals were compared to the more general soccer goals. “Go to a good college and get a PhD in counseling, be more optimistic in life, take more chances, believe in myself more,” were some of the more noteworthy goals of the 12- and 13-year olds.

It reminded me of one of my favorite quotes: “I always wanted to be someone. I guess I should’ve been more specific,” author unknown.

DRIVN offers a way for coaches, trainers or parents to help athletes create that system. DRIVN’s calendar is extremely flexible, allowing coaches or administrators to add entries into one calendar that the whole team uses. But they can also add something to one particular player’s calendar and neatly fit it into a time of day that doesn’t interfere with training, classes, tutoring, weight-training, or any other appointment.

If you have a player that needs to improve an aspect of his or her game, you can simply schedule extra work that progresses logically to the goal – 100 grounders after practice, three miles on Tuesday, 50 crosses after the game, 30 receptions before practice each day, etc.

The same can be done with the team’s calendar. Coaches can set benchmarks, indicating where the team should be in any specific category at any given time during the season – daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.


Topics: Youth Sports, Coaching, Goal Setting