Setting Realistic Goals

Posted on Thursday, May 30th, 2013


Prioritizing Goals for the Youth Baseball Season

With the excitement of another season upon us, setting goals can be an important motivational tool so long as they are realistic, attainable, and within our control.

There are 3 types of goals that most youth baseball players have (whether or not they articulate them) and it’s important to understand the differences between them.


1.) The “Dream Big” Goal

This type of goal includes things like “I want to play professional baseball,” or “I want to be President,” or “I want to walk on the moon” and should be encouraged at all times.  Not to be a cynical “adult,” but childhood is the only time when we truly believe that these goals are attainable and we should never take that away from our kids.


2) The “Results Oriented” Goal

This type of goal includes things like, “I want to make All-Stars,” or “I want to have a .500 average this season” or “I want to have an ERA under 3.00.”  These types of goals focus entirely on the result, do not encourage any critical thinking on HOW to accomplish them, and most importantly are largely out of our control.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard something like this from a youth coach: “Don’t strike out!”  (We can talk about the use of the word “don’t” in another blog).  Does the phrase “Don’t strike out” give the batter any information about how to avoid striking out?  Of course not!  We know the batter doesn’t want to strike out, so it’s a pretty pointless thing to say in the first place.  But regardless, often “Don’t strike out” becomes a “goal” – and a misguided one at that.  The correct “goal” should be something like, “become a better two strike hitter by choking up on the bat and shortening my swing,”  Now, we have set a goal that we CAN control through practice (become a better two strike hitter) AND we have concrete concepts (choke up, take a shorter swing) that will allow us to achieve that goal.

We can apply the same exact concept to the “I want to hit .500” goal:  Rather than focus on the uncontrollable “result” – hitting .500 in this case – lets focus on concrete “process” goals that will allow us to get there.  These include, “improve my hand path to the ball” or “be more aggressive early in the count” or “take a smaller stride.”


3) The “Totally in Our Control “Process Based” Goal:

I just started to introduce this concept above. This is the type of realistic, process based, and completely in our control goal that players (and coaches) should be setting this season.  “Let’s win the division” is a pointless, results-oriented goal – which team in the league do you think ISN’T trying to win the league!!!!  But more importantly, this goal tells your team NOTHING about HOW you’re going to win the league.

Set the right kind of goals this season and you’ll get the most of your players.  More importantly they’ll have more fun working hard because your expectations of them are clearly defined and you’ve given them a blueprint so they focus on the controllable process rather than the uncontrollable results.


-Coach Spring

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