Setting Goals–The Later Years
Come Ready or Never Start
The Importance of Goals For the Serious, Young
I’ve talked about getting your child acclimated early to the importance of setting goals as they first participate in organized sports. The primary emphasis is on goals that reinforce proper socialization traits that sport can teach with less stress on goals tied to superior performance.
As children reach the 5th grade and beyond and begin entering the realm of interscholastic sports, the Come Ready or Never Start philosophy addresses the kind of goals that directly impact performance and your child’s accomplishment in that particular sport. There is a weeding out process as many children move on to different interests, having met many of the goals they set for themselves during their initial, more passive involvement in sports. Those that remain have goals more directly related to athletic performance–taking the Come Ready or Never Start mindset to the next level.
I’m asked all the time about the child who wants to quit participating in a sport because of a lack of interest—even though that child may have excellent talent and potential in that sport. I say, it doesn’t matter. Without passion or desire, someone’s talent or potential are pretty much meaningless. I firmly believe that potential is more directly linked with passion, not innate talent. Talent with no passion means nothing and the child will not derive the same values and lessons of competition if they lack the interest in the sport—even while they may be reaching higher levels of achievement. I tell parents, find out which sport your child is most passionate about and point him or her that way. It may not be their ‘best’ sport from a talent perspective, but it is their ‘best’ sport from an enthusiasm viewpoint, and that make up for a lot of talent. The number one goal still applies: It has to be fun.
As they advance into junior and senior high they must improve their skills and they do so by setting specific sports specific and athletic conditioning goals that should include speed, agility and core strength. The setting of goals is no different based on talent level. You have a starting point that is determined through a pre-test, and a goal point. The goals should be a mixture of easily attainable goals and stretch goals that will take an extra-special effort or practice.
And again, I want the child to be driving the level of these goals so we can make sure he or she is having fun in their pursuit. But that doesn’t mean the parent can’t help guide these goals by proactively probing your child’s motivations by asking questions: “What do you want to do this year—play more, start or just make the team.” If you feel the goals are not ambitious enough, don’t worry about it initially. Let the child attain these easier goals and then suggest they go further: “Boy, you really improved your dribbling; I bet if you kept improving you could be one of the best ball-handlers on the team.”
Starting in the 8th grade, goals should be set a year and a couple of years out. These annual goals can involve playing time, starting, making the team etc. Two or three year goals can involve looking ahead to varsity competition in high school. Once these goals are set by your child, he or she then needs someone’s guidance in order to devise a plan to accomplish them. Don’t put stress on short-term goals at this age. That way if your child has a bad game or maybe doesn’t get into a game, it really doesn’t matter because the goals are a year or two away. It minimizes the feeling of failure or anxiety when things don’t go right during one practice or game. The child should be reminded that the goal is a ways down the road and that temporary setbacks are natural and expected.
Goals in high school are all related to the overall senior season goals. Does the child want to start; attempt to earn a scholarship; be named all-section or all-district; just get some playing time; or is the child content to just be a part of the team. Then yearly, seasonal and off-season goals are set that support that overall goal in each of the sophomore and junior years. The Come Ready or Never Start philosophy reminds the child and parent that reaching these short term and long term goals takes the proper attitude and discipline. Without that willingness to practice and prepare, their goals will not be realistic.