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Define Goals

  • Attaining specific standard of proficiency on a task, usually with a specified time limit
  • (Locke 1981)

Types of Goals and Examples

Goal Type Example A Example B
Objective Improve body image in 12 months Win powerlifting event
Outcome goal Decrease body fat to 18% and increase muscle mass by 3 kg Increase totals by 10%
Behavioral goal
  • weight train: Mon, Wed, Fri (7 PM)
  • walk 20-45 minutes Tues, Thurs, Sat (6:30 AM)
  • implement specific dietary guidelines
  • monitor body composition monthly
  • follow new daily undulating periodized program
  • monitor signs of overtraining
  • meet with coach once per week
  • taper volume 1 week before event

Goal Setting Efficacy

  • A meta-analysis on 36 studies demonstrate goal setting in sports and exercise can improve performance (Kyllo & Landers 1995)
  • Females who set goals or who were assigned goals by their instructor made greater strength gains than compared to a control group (Boyce 1994).
  • Setting all 3 types of goals improves performance (Filby 1999)
  • Behavioral goals improve performance quicker than outcome goals (Kingston & Hardy 1997)
    • Over-emphasis of outcome goals may create anxiety and reduce performance (Filby 1999)
      • outcome goals are less controllable than behavioral goals

Important Components to Goal Setting

  • Make goals specific and measurable
  • Setting short and long term goals
    • Daily training goals were one variable that distinguished successful Olympians from less successful ones (Orlick & Partington 1988)
  • Allowing individual to setting their own goals
  • Make goals public
  • (Kyllo & Landers 1995)

Other Considerations

  • Make goals challenging but realistic
    • Moderately difficult goals can improve performance greater than goals that are too easy or difficult (Kyllo & Landers 1995).
  • Set positive goals
    • Negative goals may trigger negative self-talk which may decrease performance (Van Raalte 1994)
  • Set a date goal will be achieved
    • decreases procrastination
    • make realistic but achievable
  • Commit to goals
    • Vital factor for achieving goals (Theodorakis 1996)
    • Coach or trainer can facilitate commitment
      • Make goals attractive (Hollenbeck & Klein 1987)
      • Develop self-confidence (Hollenbeck & Klein 1987)
      • Encourage self-responsibility
  • Record goals and keep them where they will be seen regularly


  • Identify objective
  • Identify best outcome goals necessary to reach objective
  • Identify behavior goals necessary to reach outcome goals
    • “people don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan”
  • Commit and implement plan
  • Regularly assess progress
    • Fitness tests, training journal, food diary, etc.
    • Modify goals if necessary
      • Lower goals that are found to be unrealistic
      • Recognize goals or objective change throughout time
    • Recommit to goals if necessary