In part 1 of this series we talked about how to create Game Plan Goals to help you achieve your Big Goal for the season. This week we’re going to talk about how you can utilize these Game Plan Goals in order to ensure success.
Want to download the 5 page Game Plan Goal Tracker & Skills Ladders we discuss in this article?
Last week you set a Big Goal for your season and broke it down into smaller bite size goals, called Game Plan Goals, that you can work on each day. One important part of goal setting that we failed to mention in part 1 is that your Big Goal (also known as your Outcome Goal) is something that depends on a certain outcome happening. Unfortunately, this type of goal is not always within your control. For example, let’s say your Big Goal is to score a 9.5 on every event at every meet this season or to place first at States. While these are not impossible goals, they do depend on things that are outside of your control such as how tough the judges were judging a meet that week or who your competitors are. These are all factors that can influence whether or not you achieve your Big Goal and are not within your immediate control. You can’t control how tough the judging is and you can’t control who shows up to a meet or how well they do at that meet. You can only control YOU.
This is why having Game Plan Goals (also known as Process Goals) are so important for keeping you motivated. Gymnasts who set Big Goals and then fail to achieve them, most likely fail because they only set outcome goals that were not within their control. This causes them to give up and conclude that goal setting doesn’t work.
Well goal setting DOES work but you have to focus on doing the right things. Luckily, last week you took the time to break down your Big Goal into smaller steps that you can complete and track over a short-term time frame. That is a valuable step in creating a successful goal setting process.
The Quality of a Good Goal
As you’re setting these short term Game Plan Goals, it’s important to pick goals that are challenging but still attainable. Setting “push” goals or goals that are challenging can help a gymnast see success in gymnastics. However, research has shown that setting goals that are too challenging can actually decrease an athlete’s belief in her ability to achieve those goals. So the key is to find goals that are tough but not impossible.
For example, a gymnast might set a Game Plan Goal of “doing 30 press handstands in a row every day.” However, based on her past performance, she might not actually believe she can do this, making this goal ineffective for her. Instead, she might change this goal to be something like “achieving two more press handstands each day than I did the day before.” Can you see how this goal feels a little more attainable yet is still a challenging one to achieve? This is the quality of a good goal. It’s that happy medium between a goal that’s too hard and one that’s too easy.
To figure out a good “push” goal for yourself, start by writing down a goal that would feel amazing if you could do it but just feels too hard to actually achieve. Next, write down a goal similar to your first goal that feels really easy to achieve. Finally, write down a new goal in between your hard goal and easy goal. That’s your “push” goal. When you create your Game Plan Goals, make sure you’re pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone but not so far that you give up because it’s unattainable.
Here’s an example of finding the perfect “push” goal. This is an example of an Outcome Goal “push” goal:
- Really Hard: Place 1st in my meet on Sunday.
- Really Easy: Place in at least 1 event in my meet on Sunday.
- In the Middle but still hard: Place in the top 3 in at least one event in my meet on Sunday.
And here’s an example of a Game Plan Goal “push” goal:
- Really Hard: Do 10 mental routines on every event every night of the week.
- Really Easy: Do 1 mental routine on every event at least once a week.
- In the Middle but still hard: Do 2 mental routines on every event at least 4 days a week.
You can see that in both cases, the “push” goal is still something that requires full effort but is closer in reach than the really hard goal and thus feels more motivating.
Tracking Your Goals
Now that you have some good Game Plan Goals created, how do you go about achieving them? You track. Nothing is more powerful than tracking your goals because it gives you a visual representation of the things you need to do as well as the things you’ve already accomplished. As you see your goals getting checked off a list you will feel proud of your work which can motivate you to keep going.
We’ve created a Game Plan Goals tracker for you to print off and use like the one you see below.
Once you feel like you’ve mastered a particular Game Plan Goal, you can take it off your list and add in a new one. Depending on the goal, this could take a week, many weeks, or even months. Some Game Plan Goals such as “sit in my splits for 10 minutes extra each day” may remain on your Game Plan Goal Tracker indefinitely or might get changed to something like “sit in my splits for 20 minutes extra each day” as your original goal becomes easy. Again, the idea is to be continuously evaluating and tracking your Game Plan Goals so that you can make changes along the way.
The key is to consistently track your Game Plan Goals each day and then to review them at the end of each week. If things didn’t work out as planned that week, think of ways to tweak or modify your Game Plan Goals so you can see more success. You might need to break down a Game Plan Goal even further into smaller steps. This fine-tuning process will take time to perfect. More than likely your Game Plan Goals will always need some sort of tweaking as you go along. The important thing is that those Game Plan Goals are still relevant to your Big Goal and that you are completing them consistently each day.
Creating and Tracking Skill Goals
In gymnastics, it’s important to continuously learn new skills to move up in level. Therefore, another type of goal that gymnasts can focus on are called Skill Goals. Skill Goals are the skills you want to accomplish by the end of this season or the beginning of your next season. Many gyms train new skills in off-season or over the summer so these could be skills you want to learn by the time your off-season training is completed.
Let’s imagine we have a Level 3 gymnast whose Big Goal is to make it to Level 4 next season. Let’s figure out what kind of Skill Goals she needs to work on to get there.
To advance to Level 4, our gymnast needs to know how to do the following skills (we’ve crossed out the skills she can already do):
- Vault – front handspring
- Bars – kip,
cast to horizontal, squat on, long hang kip, back hip circle
- Beam – cartwheel,
120 degree split leap, handstand, split jump to 120 degrees, cartwheel to side handstand with ¼ turn dismount
- Floor –
straddle jump with 120 degree split, front handspring to two feet, back extension roll, back walkover, round-off back handspring back handspring.
So based on this list and what our gymnast can already accomplish, we now have some Skill Goals for her this season:
- Vault – front handspring
- Bars – kip, long hang kip, back hip circle
- Beam – cartwheel, split jump, cartwheel dismount
- Floor – front handspring, back extension roll, round-off back handspring-back handspring
If you have a similar goal to advance to the next level, you can go through this exact process by writing down all the skills you need for the next level and then crossing out the ones you already know how to do. You’ll be left with your Skill Goals for this season. In our new Gymnastics Mindset Meet Journal we have a whole section on goal setting and a place for gymnasts to write down their Skill Goals for the season. It’s super important to write these goals down on paper in order to revisit them often and stay focused on your goals.
In order to learn these new skills you can create Game Plan Goals, like we did in Part 1, to help you get there. But more than likely your coach has already created a step-by-step process to help you achieve your skill goals by slowly building upon previous skills learned. However, a nice way to track Skill Goals so you can remain focused and motivated is through something called a Goal Ladder.
In this case we’ll call it a Skill Goals Ladder since we’re focusing on learning new skills in gymnastics. In a Skill Goals Ladder you break down the skill you want to learn into smaller goals that progressively build upon one another. For example, if your goal is to get your flyaway on bars, you could break it down into smaller steps like the ladder shows below:
Each rung on the ladder represents a new mini-goal. You start from the bottom and work your way up until you can do the skill. Again, more often than not these Skill Goals Ladders have already been created for you by your coach even if he or she hasn’t discussed it with you. That’s part of the coaching process of breaking down new skills into smaller components. But it’s nice for you to have a visual to know where you’re going.
We’ve included a blank Skill Goals Ladder in our pdf download at the top. You can print it out and have your coach fill it in for you so that you can track how close you are to learning your new skill! If you hang up your Skill Goals Ladder and cross off each rung of the ladder as you complete it, you’ll get a sense of satisfaction and feel good about what you’ve accomplished. The main idea in setting goals is to have a plan for success but also a way to stay motivated and focused.
Tips for Achieving Your Goals
While you now have a good roadmap laid out to achieving your goals, there are still some important things to keep in mind. Here are five tips for achieving your goals:
- Don’t let distractions sidetrack your progress: It’s easy to get caught up in the things that you think you SHOULD be doing and to try to do them all but trust that you’ve got a good Game Plan in place and that the goals you’ve picked out are going to get you to your destination the fastest. It’s impossible to do all the things well and doing too many things will distract you from your well thought-out plan.
- Focus on one Big Goal at a time: It’s hard to dedicate the amount of time and energy necessary to achieving more than one big goal at a time. You can see from Part 1 of this goal-setting series that each Big Goal has many parts to it. Each of those parts can also consist of smaller goals. So tackling too many goals at one time is counterproductive and will thwart your progress.
- Keep a positive mindset: We all have days and weeks when things don’t go as planned. When chasing goals, it’s similar to find that some weeks it’s easier to feel accomplished than others. Contrary to many beliefs, the road to success is not a straight line, it’s a series of twists and turns and bumps. For every tough day that you have, remember there will be good ones ahead.
- Have a support system: The best way to achieve your goals is to have a support system that holds you accountable to your goals. Maybe you have a teammate who is willing to check your Weekly Goal Tracker each week or a parent who will remind you when you’ve gone off-course. The more support you have for your journey, the better.
- Keep a log or journal where you track your goals: We talked about how important it is to track your Game Plan Goals but it’s also important to have a journal or log where you can easily see the goals you’re working on and be able to look back at all you’ve accomplished thus far. We just released our Gymnastics Journal and think it’s a great tool to use to set and achieve your goals this season. While it doesn’t have specific weekly trackers built into it, it does give you a chance to evaluate your meets and decide what your focus should be before your next meet. Again, keeping a log and then evaluating your progress is super important!
In this article we showed you how important it is to track your Game Plan Goals for maximum success. First, it’s important that you focus on the journey of gymnastics and not just the outcome since many goals are outside of your control. It’s necessary for maximum success to track your Game Plan Goals since this is something that is within your control and that you can modify as you go along. It’s also imperative that you evaluate your Game Plan Goals weekly to see what changes need to be made. You should be continuously modifying your Game Plan Goals for maximum success. In order to track your goals, you might also use a Skill Goals Ladder as a visual to stay focused on learning a new skill. Your coach can help you fill in a Skills Goals Ladder. Finally, we gave you some tips for staying focused on your gymnastics goals.
The most important part of goal setting is that you set bite-sized goals that focus on the journey of gymnastics and then track those goals along the way, modifying them when needed. Good luck this season and remember…a goal without a plan is just a wish!
P.S. Our Gymnastics Mindset Meet Journal launched last weekend and we are so excited for hundreds of gymnasts to start working through it. This is the first journal of its kind in gymnastics and it makes the perfect gift for your competitive gymnast.