I’m not sure whether every kid on the list accomplished his mission for that weekend. But one thing is for sure, simply having specific goals to focus on gave them more direction, more focus, more confidence and enabled them to play with more determination.
Some of you are rolling your eyes, thinking “great, she’s going all ‘rah-rah, motivational speaker’ on us.” I’m not going to turn into Tony Robbins and try to sell you my 24 CD collection of lifetime success secrets. (You can always catch that while insomnia channel surfing at 3 a.m. But wait! There’s more!!!!*)
1) gives players direction in which to focus their energy
2) provides a source of motivation
3) illustrates the value of hard work
4) offers a standard for measuring progress
5) helps players focus on their individual contributions, rather than just on game outcomes
According to YouGoProBaseball.com, players’ goals should be “SMART.”
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable
R – Realistic
T – Timely
I generally hate acronyms, because they remind me of Tony Robbins infomercials at 3 a.m. But this one offers good direction on how to go about setting goals for improvement…..whether you’re a ball player or a dragon slayer. (Terrible rhyme, I know.)
Here’s an example.
“In Thursday night’s game, I will strike out one more batter than I did in my last outing.”
(Not) SMART GOAL
“From now on, I’m going to get more strikeouts.”
See the difference? The SMART goal has a measurable number to achieve and a specific timeline. Plus, it’s realistic. Aiming to get one more strikeout is much more doable than committing to pitch a perfect game on Thursday.
Of course, not everyone agrees with the whole SMART philosophy of goal setting. Christopher Giangiulio says his son prefers to keep them more open-ended, less defined. (There is no right or wrong answer. It’s up to the individual.)
“We keep my son’s goals pretty simple and straightforward. He knows what he’s capable of and what his ‘job’ is on the field. And yes, we use that term very lightly. He simply strives to play to the best of his ability, do things the right way, respect the game, support his teammates on and off the field, but also not to get caught up in any negativity or drama that creeps in sometimes when younger players struggle. We don’t set goals like a three-hit game or a certain number of strikeouts. Those simply invite frustration. We focus more on things like trying to make every at-bat a quality one, or for pitching, boost his first pitch strikes or strike/ball ratio compared to his last outing. And I never tell him what he didn’t do well after a game or tourney. When the timing is right, I will ask him to name one thing he did very well and one thing that he wants to work on for next time. Self motivation is key.”
Whether specific or general, both players and teams should have objectives they want to accomplish. In order for goals to be attainable, you have to know where you’re starting from. If a pitcher wants more strike outs, he needs to know how many he got in the last several outings. If a team sets a goal of fewer errors, they all need to know how many errors they’ve made in their last tournament. That way they can be realistic about what they want to accomplish.
Here’s what some other travel ball parents have to say about goal setting.
How do your ball player and/or team handle goals? Share your experience with us in the comments.