We’re often told in school and at sports clubs to think about what it is we would like to achieve, and then to set ourselves ‘goals’… But what is goal setting and what kind of goals should we be thinking about?

Goal setting is identifying something we want to accomplish and developing a plan that’s designed to guide us in the right direction to achieve this. Setting goals can help motivate us to work harder and stay focused on what’s most important to us.

Having a goal is creating a plan, outlining what it is you ultimately what to achieve, and what you’re going to do in order to get there. Goal setting can be used in most areas in our lives, and it’s a useful tool to provide direction and give purpose to everything we do.

This leads us to the 2 types of goals we can set: Big goals (long-term) and Small goals (short-term).

Big goals are the long-term goals that focus on the overall outcome we would like to achieve. These goals cannot be achieved within a short timeframe, but instead are the goals we work towards over a longer period of time to achieve something important.

Example: “I would like to improve my shooting and score 20 goals by the end of the season”

This goal is good as it is specific to what you would like to achieve, and when you would like to achieve it by. To work towards this goal, it’s important we set ourselves small goals in order to get there.

Small goals are the short-term goals we have to achieve, that will help us accomplish our big goals. These goals need to be broken down into more detail, they are described as the ‘process’ goals, what we must achieve in the process to reach the desired outcome.

Example: Think about our big goal above… Now how would we work towards achieving that?

“Improve my shooting technique from different angels”

“Improve my movement off the ball to get into better attacking spaces”

“Improve my close technical footwork to beat defenders in 1v1 situations”

It is essential that big goals and small goals are used together.

If you set yourself a big goal to score 20 goals in the season, without any process goals, you have nothing to work towards day to day.

If you set yourself small goals without a big goal, you may find yourself struggling with motivation as there’s no significant outcome you’re ultimately wanting to achieve.

Did You Know?

Goals change the way our brains work: Studies show that when we train our minds to think about our goals and what it is we want to achieve, our impressionable brain begins to rewire itself, this helps us visualize being successful in achieving the goals we have set.

Goals change the way we view the world: When we consistently set goals for ourselves, we view the world in a more positive light, we tend to view challenges or failures as temporary setbacks we’ll work to overcome, rather than a personal defeat.


SMART is a simple guideline to make sure the goals we set are specific to us.

Specific: Make sure the goal is something YOU want to achieve.

Measurable: Measure the progress of your goals by monitoring how successful you are with your small goals.

Achievable: Work towards a goal that is challenging but possible to reach.

Relevant: Make sure your goals are worthwhile, and mean something to you.

Time-Bound:  Give yourself enough time to achieve them, but set a deadline.


“I would like to improve my shooting and score 20 goals by the end of the season”


  • Improve my shooting technique from different angels”
  • “Improve my movement off the ball to get into better attacking spaces”
  • “Improve my close technical footwork to beat defenders in 1v1 situations”


  • “I can measure this goal, by monitoring how many goals I score each game”
  • “The chances I have each game will tell me if I’m succeeding with my process goals”


  • If you are a defender, this goal may be a little bit of a challenge, therefore the goals set need to be something you are able to achieve. If you are a striker, and confident in your ability, this is a great goal to work towards.


  • Again, make sure the goal you are setting is position specific to you, an important role and responsibility of your position on the field.

Time Bound

  • “By the end of the season” gives you a good timeframe to know how long you have to achieve it, and helps you narrow down how many games you have on the journey to work on your process goals.

‘How to’ Guide:

Steps to Goal Setting

  1. Mind Map

The first step to goal-setting is to think about all the things that are most important to you. Mind mapping is a good opportunity to spend some time reflecting on where you currently are and where you would like to be in the near future. Writing down all the things you would like to accomplish is a good technique to help highlight the ones that are most important to you right now.

  1. Choose Your Goal

This is where the SMART guideline comes in handy. Once you decide which goal you want to focus on right now, you must begin to answer the steps below:

Narrow down the details and identify what exactly you want to accomplish. Here are some questions to help you with this:

  • “What do I want to achieve?”
  • “Why is achieving this important to me?”
  • “Who is involved in me reaching this goal?”
  • “What resources might I need?”

Having a vague goal with no meaning behind it is usually the reason behind failed goals. If you have a big goal, with no plan on how to get there, you’ll often find yourself coming up against many obstacles, which is likely to knock you off track.

Your goal can be as big as you’d like, as long as you follow the SMART guideline to ensure its relevant and achievable.

There are no successful outcomes, without a planned process to get there.

  1. Create Small Goals

So, now you’ve noted down all the details about what it is you want to achieve and why you want to achieve it. Let’s loop back to those small goals we spoke about before. What are the small goals, those ‘process goals’ you want to put in place to achieve our big goal?

Break down the process goals down into monthly, weekly and daily goals, but these are going to be the small successes that help us accomplish our big goal.

If your big goal is an outcome such as “I want to make an elite team next year”, this can initially feel overwhelming.

It’s important you break it down, and focus on what you can do each month to work towards this, as this will help reduce the overwhelming panic and keep you focused on what you can do now.

  • Monthly goals can help keep your focus on the bigger picture, the significant areas you need to work on to reach your outcome.
  • Weekly goals are what you want to improve week to week – you have 4 weeks in a month to reach that month’s goal, so think about what is it you would like to accomplish in each of those weeks to be successful that month.
  • Finally, daily goals, this is where the hard work is done, this is where you focus every single day on what is important now, narrow down the specific activities you want to improve each day to make sure you meet your weekly goal.

Game Day Tips:

  1. Check your action plan!

First things first on game day – remind yourself what your long-term objective is, and what you need to do in the process to achieve that. Remind yourself of your monthly goals, weekly goals, and daily goals, this will keep you focused on what you’re working towards.

  1. Apply your process goals

Your process goals will come from your weekly/daily goals. Ask yourself “what is it I want to achieve in this game?”.

When you’re aiming towards something, you don’t go aimlessly into a game hoping you play well, you go into the game knowing exactly what it is you’re working towards, this helps you visualize yourself being successful and helps you remain focused on what’s important now.

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