Coach Tip Tuesday: If You Aim at Nothing, You'll Hit It...Every Time
It’s Tuesday, which means that it is time for another coach tip!
It probably won’t surprise many of you to read that a majority of athletes who reach out to me about coaching services do so with some sort of goal in mind that they would like to accomplish. Wanting to be successful at reaching their goal and wanting some guidance along the way to yield the highest probability of that success is the number one reason that most athletes will seek out a coach.
When setting a goal, I encourage athletes to be really specific and to clearly define what they want to accomplish. When I say “clearly define,” I mean that they need to put what they want in real words.
While this may seem silly or “elementary”, I have found that athletes often are not specific enough when it comes to goal setting. Many times, they are downright ambiguous. When I ask the question “What is your goal for this event?”, it’s not uncommon for me to hear the following as answers to that question:
“I want to do my best.”
“I want to feel strong.”
“I want to have a good performance.”
Now, by now, you all know me. You know that I want each and every one of you to be strong and confident as you toe the start line of your goal events. I want you all to give your best effort, and I want you all to come away feeling like you had a good performance. For all these reasons, the above statements are important and valid. However, when we use terms like this to describe our goals and objectives for an event, it’s not specific enough for us to develop a solid plan.
For instance, what is a “good” performance? What would make you feel strong? What does your best look like to you?
Many, many times our response to “What is your goal?” is very, very subjective. I, the coach, might have a completely different definition of what “good” and “strong” looks like than you do. As such, it’s important for you to get specific about exactly what you want to accomplish. This helps your coach (if you are working with one), but most importantly, it helps you. It helps you clearly outline your own expectations so you can have a better way to assess whether or not you succeeded at reaching your goal.
If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it...every time. If you don’t know what you want, you won’t get what you want. If you don’t know where you want to go, you’ll end up somewhere else.
It might feel scary or vulnerable to put your goals into actual words. They might feel “too lofty” or “crazy”. I’m here to tell you that your goals are NONE of those things. Your goals are just that - your goals. It’s VERY OKAY if they are lofty. It’s also okay if your goal is something you are not currently capable of today (which is what drives most people to assign the adjective “crazy” to a goal). In fact, a fundamental part of goal-setting is to push our boundaries and go somewhere we’ve never gone before. By definition, our goals probably should be a little “crazy.” The most important element of goal setting is that your goal should be honest; you should be truthful with yourself (and your coach) about what you want to achieve.
Determining where you want to go determines the best path for you to take to get there. Think about it. If you wanted to go on vacation, you couldn’t plan a route to get there until you decided what your destination was going to be. Only when you acknowledge or decide that you’re heading to Walt Disney World can you plan your best route to Florida.
Similarly, if we don’t have a solid plan of where we want to go in our endurance sports life, we will feel like we are treading water or floundering. This can lead to demotivation, disinterest, and burnout. This is exactly the opposite of what most of us want; most of us who exist in the endurance sports space do so because we want to stay active and engaged in movement for as long as possible over the course of our lives.
As you start planning out your next goals, get specific. Put it out there - in real words. Don’t be scared to do that. By getting specific, you won’t be aiming at nothing (and then hitting nothing). Give yourselves something to aim for. Even if you “miss”, you’ll still end up closer to the target than if you didn’t give yourself something to aim for in the first place. Even the “misses” add up as stepping stones to ultimately get us to where we want to go.
Aim for something, my friends. You might just hit it. :)
Coach Laura Henry
Laura Henry is a Syracuse, NY-based coach who is a USA Triathlon Level II Long Course and Level II Paratriathlon Certified Coach, USA Cycling Level 2 Certified Coach, VFS Certified Bike Fitter, and has successfully completed NASM's Certified Personal Trainer course. Coach Laura is passionate about helping athletes of all ability levels reach their goals and has coached many athletes to success.