Goal-setting is something we all do, and it is essential to success in anything. Whether it be for a big dream such as a future career or a small choice like maintaining a healthy diet, goals have always been at the core of individual improvement.
But you know what’s more important than establishing goals?
It’s easy to say you want to do something, but simply saying this doesn’t give you any direction into how you’re actually going to get it done. In order to accomplish the goals you set for yourself, you need to be focused and create an actionable plan.
That’s where the acronym SMART comes in, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.
Looking at your big picture ambitions through the SMART goal lens will help provide direction for getting there, allowing you to better channel your efforts to ensure you’re getting the most return out of your hard work!
Let’s take a look at how this is done.
Of course you want to be a better baseball or softball player, everyone does, but if this is the only direction you have for improvement you’re going to get lost along the way.
Broad goals are overwhelming, which is why it’s important to evaluate your game and identify actionable steps you can take towards improving a specific area of it.
Pick a weakness you’d like to fix or a strength you want to build on, and ask your coaches what drills and exercises they recommend to improve your skills in this specific area. Once improvement in this area is satisfactory, move on to a different element of your game.
The more you accumulate skill in a variety of areas of your game, the closer you will be to accomplishing the overarching goal of becoming the best ball player you can be!
When creating goals, it’s important to establish what accomplishment of the goal will look like so you know when to move on to your next one.
If you find yourself struggling, you may find it necessary to lower your expectations or move in a new direction, but if you aren’t keeping track of your progress you won’t know whether or not this is beneficial.
Some goals, such as committing fewer errors or lifting a heavier weight, can be measured easily with a number.
This is important feedback, but numbers don’t always tell the complete story. To be a well-rounded baseball/softball player, it’s important to find the intangible elements of your game that need improvement as well, such as putting together more quality at-bats or being a smarter player.
Your goal should challenge you to push yourself while also being attainable given your age and physical abilities. Different players are capable of attaining different feats, and it’s important to understand who you are as a player when determining if your goal is a realistic expectation.
For example, don’t expect to hit a homerun your first year playing with 90 foot bases, but if you were used to crushing balls on the little league fields, learn how to drive the ball to different parts of the significantly expanded outfield.
If you realize along the way that something isn’t as attainable as you thought it was initially, don’t be afraid to pivot!
Obviously your goal should be relevant to improving your game, but more specifically your goals should be relevant to getting you where you want to be as a player.
Every player has different strengths and weaknesses, and what you choose to work on will shape you into a certain style of player.
Many people assume that goal-setting revolves around fixing your weaknesses, but building on what you’re already good at should be worked for as well.
For example, if you’re naturally slow, running a few extra suicides after practice probably isn’t going to convince coach to give you the steal sign. But if you have a great eye at the plate and get on base a lot, get in the batting cage at a higher speed than usual to get even better at what you’re already good at and stay ahead of the pack as you move to higher levels of play.
It’s important to hold yourself accountable when working on a goal, and a great way to do this is to give yourself a deadline, or multiple if you have a multi-step plan.
Wholistic improvement is an ongoing process, but we recommend that you limit your deadlines to at most one season or offseason. That way, you’ll be free to explore a variety of aspects that contribute to your game rather than putting all your time and effort into one particular skill.
Remember to be ambitious with this. It’s ok not to accomplish every goal you make, but you should always be pushing yourself to achieve more!