Posts Tagged ‘goals’

The New Year seems to always be a good time to reflect on the past year and evaluate goals for the upcoming year.  So it would be a good time to discuss proper goal setting for 2012.

I like to have our players set long-term goals (about 10 years away), mid-range goals (4-5 years), and short-term goals (this next year).  We have them set goals in three areas: life, academics, and soccer.  Life goals are things you want to see in your personal life in relationships, spiritually, or work.  Academic goals apply specifically to our players because we want them to be focused on why they are in college.  Not only setting goals for a specific GPA, but finding a career-related internship, or applying for graduate school.  Finally soccer goals are related to their playing career.  Specific marks on the fitness tests, making the varsity team or the starting 11, and hopefully some goals related to the success of our team in the upcoming seasons.

For my personal goal setting I’ve broken down my goals into three main categories as well: spiritual, life, and career goals.  Spiritual goals are related to my walk with Christ and being the spiritual leader of my family and my team.  Life goals are related to my health, personal growth, and my relationship with my wife and friends.  Career goals are obviously related to things I’d like to accomplish in my program, or related to club and other outside coaching interests.

Finally I want to discuss some rules related to goal setting that I’ve picked up along the way.

  • Goals must be specific, measurable, and written down.  Goals that are not measurable might as well not be goals.  We need to know when we’ve achieved a goal or missed the mark.  Instead of saying, “I want to improve my fitness” we should say, “I want to be able to run a 5K in under 21 minutes.”  Make it something that is specific and you know you’ve hit it.  Then write them down!  Nothing is worse than taking the time to set goals and then forgetting them.
  • They must have an established time limit or deadline.  Goals that don’t have a deadline are bound to be pushed to the wayside and put off because they don’t seem important or urgent.  Having a time limit on our goals forces us to establish a sensible plan of action to address them.
  • Goals must be attainable, but they need to stress us.  In the field of exercise science we have what’s called the Overload Principle.  Our bodies need to be stressed and overloaded to see improvement.  You don’t physically train at a rate that doesn’t take any exertion, you push yourself so you start to see improvements and the work rate becomes easier.  It’s the same way with our goals, we need to set realistic goals that are attainable, but that will stretch us to grow and improve ourselves.
  • We need to keep our goals in a prominent place so we can see them on a regular basis and be reminded of them.  It’s the same reason we write the goals down, so we are constantly reminded of them and keep striving for them.
  • When we achieve our goals, or miss the target, we need to re-evaluate the process and seek council from others to consider what we need to change the next time around.  Asking mentors to help us walk through the process and offer any wisdom and insight can be an invaluable process.  They might have a point of view that is extremely valuable, or experience in this same area that would help us side-step unforeseen challenges.  Set up a periodic time to evaluate your goals and your process of achieving these goals.  New Years seems to be the natural time to do this, but we should have periodic times throughout the year as well.

I hope you all have a blessed and prosperous 2012.  We should always be striving for more, and stretching ourselves to new heights.

Below is an email I sent to my coaching staff.  Our program is on the verge of becoming a strong program that is going to push young men to grow and be their best, not only on the field but off the field as well.  But we need to make some team culture changes and we need to improve as a staff as well.  The team can only grow as much as the staff grows, and ultimately as much as I grow.  If we want the team to take a step to the next level then as a staff we need to take ourselves to the next level.  This is why we have committed to reading books on leadership and influence over the break, and why we are attending the convention together as a staff.

This will give you some insight into what our goals are for the spring and what I believe are steps that our staff needs to take to improve…


New goals for Recruiting this Spring:

  1. Have the class of 2012 signed by February
  2. Have at least 10 individual visits on campus for the class of 2013 this semester
  3. Have at least 10 players on campus for the Junior Visit Day
  4. Get at least 20 recruits to our summer camps from the class of 2013
  5. Narrow down the 2013 recruiting class to 50 seriously interested players by June (right now we’re at 127), and organize them into our top 15 and 30.
  6. Get four verbal commitments for 2013 by August.
  7. Have our recruiting class of 2014 inquiries up to 30 seriously interested players by August (currently have 28, but may not all be serious)

 Also, I’d like us to have a series of meetings during the first week all three of us are back to discuss some changes I’d like to make to the way we do things.  A lot of it is based on the books I’ve been reading over break, but some are ideas I’ve been kicking around for a little while too.  Come in with ideas of your own too.  The main thing is I want us to start living up to the program creed “Experience the Difference.”  This needs to be one of the toughest places for players to play, and I want it to be the best place to play in the GPAC and the Dakotas.  We shouldn’t be fighting with local colleges for the same players.  It should be a no-brainer for kids that if they want to be the best they need to come to DWU.  To do this we need to change our team culture to play to the standard, not a specific opponent or school, but a perfect standard.

 After we get back from the convention I’d like us to do a series of meetings with the seniors and juniors to get their input into this culture shift.

 Also, start building up a store of youtube videos to use for film sessions with your lines (Stefan-keepers and backs; Dan- mids and forwards).  I’ve ordered film from the national tournament, and I’ve also ordered some additional film that I’d like us to watch as staff and break down for the players.  I really want us to make an effort to get into the classrooms this Spring semester with the players for at least eight hours total (in their lines, starters and reserves, etc).  We need to start explaining the player’s roles and expectations better to them.  They need to start reading the game better to make the best decision, not just good decisions.

 Finally, don’t forget about the books you’re reading over the break.  During our meetings when we first get back I’d like each of us to take a few minutes and talk about something we took away from the books we read that we can apply to the program in the future.

 Have a great break!  Safe travels as you guys are all over the country this winter break.  Thanks so much for everything you do!  The two of you have played a big role in the direction this program has turned and we definitely have not reached our peak yet!  It’s an exciting time for our program, and you guys are a major factor in this.


Coaching is a tireless job.  Preparations seem to never stop for the upcoming seasons.  At the collegiate level we are constantly recruiting and preparing for future seasons that we might not even have completed schedules for.

But on a more practical level “preseason” begins with my post season player meetings.  I actually just got done with my last player meeting today, and it’s an evolving process for me.

How do you evaluate the effectiveness of a season?  How are players appropriately debriefed?  How do you set to the tone for the new and upcoming season?

Here is the evolution I’ve personally taken with player evaluations…

2002- As an assistant coach I sat in on some of the post-season player evaluations we did.  Mostly the head coach pointed out to the players what he saw from them and opened it up for the players to vent about their season.

2005- My first year as a head coach, I debriefed my players and asked them to set three goals for themselves related to soccer for the upcoming competitive season.

2006- I started using a form I stole from a fellow coach (with permission).  The players had to take the form home and have it filled out when they returned for their post-season meeting.  The form covered several areas for short term (in college August of the upcoming year), midrange goals (approx. 3 years), and long term goals (6-10 years).  The goals were supposed to be wholistic, not just related to soccer.   The players are asked to set goals academically, athletically, and basic goals they want to see achieved in their lives.

Present Day- I still use an updated version of this form.  I’ve found that it does a great job of tackling several things.

  • Goals need to have a time limitation!  What’s the point of having a goal without having a deadline?  So we’ve established that short term goals are set to be achieved by the beginning of the upcoming season (approx. mid-August).  Midrange goals I’ve established as the time table they have until they graduate with their bachelors’ degrees (I think it’s important for college students to think about that last year and what they want to achieve by the end of the collegiate career).  And long term we’ve left as 6-10 years down the road.
  • Goals need to be wholistic.  I like that our players set goals for academics and life.  Some players set GPA goals, deciding majors, spiritual goals, and relationship goals.  This shows our players that we care more about them as a whole person rather than just an athlete.  And, it helps the athletes prioritize soccer in the big picture of their lives.
  • Identify obstacles to achieving success!  At the beginning of each season we try to help our athletes identify what the other teams are going to do to stop our attacks, or to break down our defensive shape, and why not in goal setting.  The biggest challenge I’ve noticed in goal setting for soccer players is they meet a challenge and don’t know how to overcome it so they give up.  Identifying that we will have obstacles to success and establishing a game plan to overcome is a great psychological victory!
  • Goals need to be written and shared!  It’s too easy to give up on our goals when we don’t put them down on paper and share them with our teammates.  There’s no accountability if they’re in our head.  Each of my players turns a goal setting form into me, and I photocopy it and give them a copy to leave in their lockers.  For our individual meetings in August I pull these sheets back out and confront the players with them.

These are just a couple things I have learned about goal setting with our players.  After we have individual meetings with the team we sit down as a community and set goals for the upcoming season as a unit nine months in advance.

This is important to put all of our off-season work into perspective.

How about you?  What do you do for goal setting with your team?  I’d also be very interested to hear from club coaches on how you tackle this with your teams.  I coach a club team in the off-season and I find it very challenging to establish goals.