Ready, Set, GOAL!! 5 Benefits of Goal Setting for Ball Players

A few weeks ago, I received the cutest photos from baseball mom Loretta Woods of Las Cruces, New Mexico. She was excited about her son’s 7U team’s first tournament win. What really impressed me with this team wasn’t just their victory in-and-of-itself. But each player had written down a specific goal for himself before the tournament began. Yes, seven-year-olds!!! (You’re impressed too, aren’t you.) This warms my OCD, goal-setting heart.

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, 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.”


“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.

Here’s a sample you can use to create your own player goals worksheet.

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.”

Ethan Giangiulio

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.

Jeremy Gaudet
“My 14-year-old tries to have hitting goals. He mainly works hard to avoid pop ups and he gets very excited if all his at-bats meet that goal.”—–Monica Lawson Gaudet, Jeremy Gaudet, Texas Blue Chips, Houston
Tracy Hawks Webb
“My son plays 12U baseball and writes both offensive and defensive goals on index cards before each baseball tournament. Examples are no passed balls, no errors, start a new hitting streak, get on base 2 times, strike out 2 players, etc. He revisits those cards at the end of the game and writes out the results of his performance.”—-Tracy Hawks Webb, Jacksonville, FL
“My son is 12 and has played travel for just over 3 years now. He always goes into tournaments with specific goals in mind, especially if he is facing a team that he struggled against in the past. He is one of the main pitchers for our team so he will usually pitch at least 6 innings in a weekend, sometimes more depending on the situation. He always has a goal of at least 10k’s per weekend. He is our #5 hitter and very rarely strikes out and when he does it’s usually questionable called 3rd ( we all know those) haha. Anyway, he will usually fill me in on his game plan at the plate in the car on the way to the field. Usually he says he wants to have at least 3 hits and 3 RBIs each day. Sometimes he gets there. Sometimes he doesn’t. But when he doesn’t, he will usually analyze himself and figure out how he can approach it differently to get a better result (next time.) More times than not, he is successful in achieving what he sets out to do. He isn’t the strongest or the fastest but he has more heart and passion for the game than anyone I have encountered before.” Nick, North Port, FL Braydon (or BK, as everyone calls him)

How do your ball player and/or team handle goals? Share your experience with us in the comments.

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Angela Weight

Founder and publisher of Travel Ball, Angela Weight is still a little shocked to be running one of the most popular youth sports parenting sites on the web. Click the ABOUT US tab to read her story.

2 thoughts on “Ready, Set, GOAL!! 5 Benefits of Goal Setting for Ball Players

  • November 11, 2015 at 9:58 pm

    My Grandson Jacob is actually one of the KC Bambinos. I am so proud, not only of these 7 and 8 year olds but of their coaches who motivate them and teach them not only baseball but also GOALS. LOVE THOSE BAMBINOS

    • November 20, 2015 at 2:07 pm

      Thanks for commenting, Alice! They seem like a great group of kids and coaches.


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