Coaching Education content provided by the .NSCAA
by Lawrence Fine
Useful goals are measurable and attainable
In order to be successful in soccer (or any aspect of life), a person must have goals. However, when many people set goals for themselves, they frequently don't set goals that will be useful them.
For a goal to be useful, it must be both measurable and attainable. For example, a player may say "I want to get better." While admirable, this goal is not useful. It is too vague and can't be quantified. How will progress toward the goal of getting better be measured? Narrowing the focus can help: "I would like to be able to run faster." The stated goal now can be measured, but it still hasn't established attainability. If the player
says "In four months, I want to cut my 40-yard sprint time three-tenths of a second," the goal is now measurable, has a time limit and is attainable.
Once this more specific goal has been chosen, the next step is to determine how to achieve the goal. The example of lowering the 40-yard sprint time sounds great, but it can't be achieved without a plan to reach it. The question now becomes "what steps are necessary to be done to achieve that goal?" This is when a game plan must be created. In this case, the plan may include plyometrics and first-step exercises. With a plan in place, the player can
be tested to monitor progress toward achieving the goal during the four-month span.
To give a more soccer-specific example, a forward might set a goal of getting better. With a better understanding of the goal-setting process, the goal may be revised to being able to score more goals. To sharpen the focus of the goal, the player may use past results to establish the new goal: "Last season I scored 10 goals, this season I want to score 20 goals." However, if he or she were to say, "Last season I scored 10 goals, this season I want
to score 200 goals," the goal becomes useless because it would be unattainable. Assuming that scoring 20 goals is possible, the next step is to determine how the goal will be accomplished. Intermediate steps might include various finishing exercises five days per week plus playing in four pickup games per week. Again, set goals and intermediate steps that are both attainable and measurable.
Like individual goals, team goals must meet the same criteria of attainability and measurability. If the goal can't be quantified, if there isn't a beginning and end to the goal and if it isn't attainable, it is a useless goal. When setting goals, be sure to establish intermediate steps that also are quantifiable and that, if done, help lead toward achieving the overall goal.
If you want to have success, as a coach, a player or a member of society, you must set goals that have a time limit, are quantifiable and are attainable, then have a plan with intermediate steps to achieve these goals.
Editor's Note: Lawrence Fine produces FineSoccer.com, an online resource for a variety of tips, ideas and newsletters related to soccer coaching. A member of the NSCAA Website Development Committee, Fine also serves as volunteer assistant coach for an NCAA Division I men's team.