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I recently finished my basketball season as a head varsity girls coach and for my little school, we made a run in state. Preparing for state, I took a risk and held a practice unlike any other practice I’ve had. Instead of physically preparing my girls, I took most of practice to attempt to mentally prepare them. I spoke to them about the core differences of elite athletes to everyday athletes. One of the main components is a mental toughness that I believe can be taught/learned. I won’t go into all the details of this practice because it is irrelevant to a kayaker, however, one component I do want to discuss: intentional practice. With this comes goals.

Goals are important but just setting a general goal is one that tends to not get accomplished. If you are a teacher, you have likely heard of a SMART goal. If you’ve ever been a student, you may have seen this before. This is a template that forces you to think through your goal. In my basketball practice, I created a SMARTER goal worksheet and had each player set 1 goal for practice. Once they finished this, they set out to accomplish their goal through repetition (intentional practice). On the bus to 2nd round of state, I had my girls complete a goal for the game. Their own individual goal that could help the team. I believe the goal setting helped with my player’s focus and help them achieve a win.

While on the bus, one of the adults said I should set my own goal. So I did – but with kayaking.

This really makes me think through the details and hopefully propels me to accomplish some of the things that I want personally in kayaking. While this is personal, I’d like to share my goal (this will partly keep me accountable and hopefully provide an example for anyone wanting to use the same format).

Here are the components:

S (Specific) – What is the specific goal?
M (Measure) – How are you going to measure if you were successful or not?
A (Action Plan) – This is your blueprint. This should be detailed.
R (Realistic) – We might think our goal is obtainable, but is it really?
T (Time frame) – Self explanatory.
E (Expectation Management) – Under what circumstances will you consider adjustments? This is a big one in my opinion. Things happen and sometimes they are out of our control. What happens when things aren’t going our way?
R (Recorded) – This can simply say yes, since you are writing it down, or I went in a little different direction saying how I was going to record various aspects to my goal(s).

Now, when I want to go “practice” I need to do it with a purpose. My purpose is to achieve my goal(s). My action plans breaks down what I need to do week by week. This also helps to keep me focused. While this may not be for everyone, I hope many of you will explore the idea of keeping yourself accountable – no matter what the goal.