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Friday, August 27
COMMON ERRORS IN GOAL SETTING

COMMON ERRORS IN GOAL SETTING


The focus of this discussion will be on anticipating and safeguarding against the most common errors in goal setting. As you may recall, previous articles have distinguished goals from "wishes, hopes and dreams" by their specific, behavioral and observable nature, and the fact that they must include a specified time period for their completion.


Further, we described three basic types of goals, namely: product goals (where the focus is on the outcome; like "becoming a starting player"), process goals (where the focus is on one's own performance and on factors directly under the athletes control; like "running four 60 yard wind sprints after practice three days per week"), and "do your best" goals (which sound altruistic and positive but invariably lack specificity and detail; like "I'm just going to try my best when I lift weights this week").


You were encouraged to consider setting goals for each of the four pillars of your sport: the technical skills, the tactical requirements, the physiological demands and the psychological components. Once athletes (and coaches, for that matter) begin to set observable, measurable goals and specify the date for completion, it is not uncommon to experience increased motivation and excitement as goals are successfully accomplished. This exuberance leads to two of the most common goal setting problems:



  • Setting too many goals too quickly

  • Setting unrealistic goals based on one's current level of performance

While there is no magic formula for how many goals to set in a particular time frame, I generally encourage athletes to focus on a maximum of three to four goals per week: a "goal set." The challenge is to keep the goals meaningful, relevant and motivating. Goals should not control your athletic life or become burdensome to the training regimen. Rather, they should serve as guideposts and standards of excellence that are individually significant. They should be difficult but realistic and only you can determine what that may be.


For example, if you are currently bench-pressing 100 pounds, it would be an unrealistic goal to bench-press 125 pounds (a 25-pound increase from your previous best) in one week's time. Let's say your long-term goal is to be able to bench-press 125 pounds, however. Perhaps the best way to utilize effective goal setting is to make a commitment to "complete three sets of 10-12 repetitions three days per week at 100 pounds for the next four weeks, using perfect form." The process of bench-pressing consistently each week, following proper strength training guidelines will be behavior completely under the athlete's control (barring injury or illness) and bring a person closer to reaching their ultimate goal.


Likewise, if your goal is to improve your free throw shooting percentage over the last season, then establish a realistic long term goal of say, a 10% improvement in nine months and then devise a "goal set" plan to achieve that outcome. Specifically, you may commit to shooting an extra 100 free throws each week for three months, or you may "goal set" to shoot however many free throws are required to make 50 after practice two days each week. Both of these goals would be excellent means to bring you closer to achieving your long-term goal of improved free-throw shooting percentage.


The key point to emphasize is that it is better to design fewer, high quality goals and commit to their successful accomplishment than to set too many goals and hope that several will be accomplished. Decide what aspects of your performance are most important to you and which skills you want to focus on for a particular week. Once you've made that determination, you are then ready to create your weekly "goal sets."


© Dr. Colleen Hacker




Goal Setting Principles - Article #3
 

Mental Skills - Article 3


GOAL SETTING PRINCIPLES


Goal setting helps direct an athlete's attention to appropriate behaviors necessary for athletic success, it helps increase an athlete's persistence in the face of adversity and difficulty, and, it increases effort and output in both practice and competition.


There are three types of goals: Performance goals, Outcome goals and Do Your Best goals. The preferred type of goals to set are performance goals that specify both the observable behavior and the time frame for when these changes will occur. I generally recommend that for every outcome goal that a coach or athlete sets, it should be accompanied by at least four process goals. For example, if you set a goal to become a starter on next year's team (an outcome goal) you should set four process goals that will increase the likelihood of you achieving that goal. These performance goals would be behavior or activities over which you have complete control and your participation and ultimate success is virtually guaranteed.


Examples


An example of four process goals to accompany the outcome goal of starting might be:



  1. I will complete my strength training program three days per week all year long

  2. I will stay after practice on Wednesdays and Fridays to take 50 extra shots with my right foot and 50 extra shots with my left foot

  3. I will watch game film at least two hours every week and write down three key tactical points for each video session

  4. I will complete five, five-minute imagery sessions each week all season long

Lessons


What should be clear from these examples is that:



  1. Athletes can completely control whether or not they engage in these activities (whether or not the coach ultimately selects them to be a starter)

  2. Engaging in these activities will lead to improvements in each of the specified areas of performance and these improvements will increase the likelihood of achieving the outcome of becoming a starter

  3. Each of these goals provides a specific standard of proficiency and a specified time for achievement

Guidelines


In order for goal setting to work for you and your team, the following guidelines should be followed:



  1. Goals should be difficult but realistic to achieve (Unrealistic goals create anxiety and disbelief)

  2. Goals should be specific, observable and measurable

  3. Set proximal (short term) as well as distal (long term) goals

  4. Set performance or techniques goals rather than outcome or do your best goals

  5. Write your goals down ("ink what you think")!

  6. Discuss your goals with at least one other person

  7. Set the goals yourself rather than simply adopt someone else's goals for you

  8. Provide and get goal support through interactions with coaches, teammates and other important people in your life

  9. Evaluate your goal effectiveness and adjust the goal difficulty in the future so those goals are optimally challenging for your current abilities and your future potential

  10. Set goals in each of the four pillars of sport: technical, tactical, psychological and physiological
© Dr. Colleen Hacker



Goal Setting - Article #2
 

Mental Skills - Article 2


Goal Setting


Goal setting is one of the foundational building blocks of a successful psychological skills training program. In fact, coaches and athletes can utilize the goal setting principles that I'll discuss in the next two months of eteamz articles, with each of the four pillars of sport we have previously discussed: namely, the technical, tactical, psychological and physiological areas. To understand goal setting better, and more specifically, how you can utilize its powerful effects to your competitive advantage, it's important to define what goals are.


Definition


Goals are a specific standard of proficiency achieved in a specific area of performance within a specified time. For example, an athlete could set a goal to improve their free throw shooting ability by taking 30 extra shots every day immediately after practice. All of the criteria listed in that definition must be met (along with several other important standards) in order for behavior to be considered a goal. The two key questions to determine if goal setting is successfully being implemented are: Can I measure it? Can I see it? Goals are more than wishes, hopes and dreams. Dreaming is important in sport and in life, but dreams lack an essential ingredient inherent in effective goal setting, and that is the observable, measurable behaviors required for achieving the end result. For example, I might wish that I was an Olympic performer and I might dream about making an Olympic team, but when I goal set, much more is required of me in order to reach my goal standard.


Types of goals


There are three types of goals. Each will be defined and a sport-related example will be provided for clarification.


1. Performance Goals: Performance goals are goals in which participants focus on process-oriented standards relative to ones own best performance capabilities. They emphasize the PROCESS by which a given outcome is achieved. Another key component of process goals is that the participant has much more control on the achievement potential and successful outcome of these types of goals.


Examples of process goals are increasing the number of tennis serves taken in order to improve ones' first service percentage, committing to a consistent pattern of three strength training sessions per week in order to increase the amount of weight lifted for a one-rep max, and engaging in first person imagery training two days per week for the next month of practice.


2. Outcome Goals: Outcome goals are goals in which participants focus on the end result, the outcome, or a PRODUCT-type measurement as the standard of comparison. These are the most often recited and typically utilized types of goals among coaches and athletes. While participants "think" they have control over outcome goals, the facts indicate that athletes and coaches have only partial control (at best), or little to no control over the ultimate successful achievement of outcome goals.


Examples of outcome goals are: to become a starting member of the team this season, to win the league championship, or to achieve the school scoring record before graduating.


3. Do Your Best Goals: Do your best goals are obvious from the title itself. The focus is not on specific standards of proficiency, process or outcome other than asking the participants to "give it their best shot", try hard and "do your best".


Examples of this third type of goal would be saying, "I'll try my best to play well in today's game," "We'll try our best to play good defense," or "I'll try to be a better coach this season." What is clear in these examples, is that do your best goals lack the specificity and detail that are so apparent in the first two types.


While it may be easier and more convenient to set outcome goals in sport, experts recommend and the sport psychology literature clearly indicates, that the most favorable results in performance occur when athletes and coaches set performance goals. In fact, process goals will allow you to achieve greater success, if they are correctly and consistently utilized, than either outcome or do your best goals.

© Dr. Colleen Hacker 



Mental Skills - Article #1

Mental Skills - Article 1


If you're like most sport enthusiasts, you're convinced that a commitment to the psychological dimension of your game will not only enhance your performance but also bring you closer to reaching your potential no matter what your current level of competition.


If you are also like most people, you may begin a mental skills program highly enthused and motivated for the first couple of weeks but if you don't see dramatic results "immediately" you may be tempted to revert back to practice that only includes three of the four pillars of peak performance. In some ways, mental skills training is like the familiar New Years Resolution to "get in shape." Unfortunately, data indicates that 50% of the people who start an exercise and fitness program drop out within the first six months. Our culture has sold us on the idea of quick fixes and immediate change. Instead of thinking of mental preparation as a "magic pill" think of it as a "steady diet." You will see results only if you commit to it in the same way you do the technical, tactical and physiological aspects, namely consistent and prolonged effort over time.


If so many top level athletes and coaches extol the benefits of mental training for peak performance, then why do a relatively small percentage of teams and individuals commit to practicing and refining this critical part of performance? Listed are the top four reasons for discontinuation. Check to see if any of your reasons are included:



  1. I don't have enough time

  2. I'd like to do psychological skills training (PST) but I don't know how

  3. You're either mentally tough and motivated or you're not. It can't be taught or acquired, so why try

  4. People need to "pull themselves up by the bootstraps" and not look for improvements from this new fad. We never did any of that stuff when I was an athlete.

Let's look at each reason, beginning with "lack of time." To be most effective, PST should be part of your regular daily practice and/or game routine, not necessarily separate from or in addition to your normal sport activities. Start applying goal setting to your daily training schedule, or practice positive self-talk as you play. In this way, rather than an adding another team meeting into an already hectic day, you can incorporate mental practice into the arena where you will need to use it most...on the court, field, pool, arena, etc. As you become more proficient in practice, gradually you will begin to apply and utilize these same performance enhancement techniques into games, matches and actual competition. Just as physical skills are first practiced in a controlled environment in order to sharpen and automate performance, the same principle should be followed for PST: simple to complex, less demanding to more demanding.


The second concern people have is acquiring the proper knowledge base. Well, if you're reading this article then you are already on your way in developing the requisite knowledge and skill. There are excellent books and journal articles available concerning mental training for sport. Whether you compete in golf, soccer, baseball, basketball or any other, much has been written on how to get the competitive edge and how to use it to your best advantage. Attend clinics, listen to respected athletes and coaches discuss their techniques at conferences or workshops and by all means, keep reading the eteamz site!


The final two excuses could best be explained by reminding yourself that mental skills are just like physical skills, they respond best to practice and repetition. All of us are born with varying levels of a host of qualities from mental toughness, to competitive drive to perseverance after failure. No matter how much or little you possess of any one characteristic, almost all psychological skills respond positively to sustained and appropriately focused efforts at improvement. Years ago, few athletes sought professional advice on personal training and fitness and yet today, that practice is commonplace. Years ago, few people understood the role that diet played in enhancing peak performance in sport. Science, research and technology have made incredible advances in our understanding of what psychological skills are best targeted to enhance performance and what principles to utilize to see those positive results.


© Dr. Colleen Hacker



Friday, August 27
Game Day Nutrition Guidelines
Game Day Nutrition Guidelines
Evening Meal - Before a Competition:

Pre-event nutrition can have a major effect on performance. Players diet should be HIGH IN CARBOHYDRATES, LOW IN FAT. The target is 60-70% carbohydrate, 10-15% protein. This is a very important meal as the main energy reserves are made up from the previous days meals, not from the pre-game meal or big breakfast of the competition day.

Items recommended the night before a competition are:

Drinks, Meals, Desserts & Snacks

Apple Juice
Orange Juice
Vegetable Juice
Fruit Juice
Water   
Spaghetti
Tomato Sauce with Meat
Rice (steam or boiled)
Lean Meat
Fish
Poultry
Potatoes
Cooked dried peas, beans or lentils
Salad (very low dressing)
Vegetables (fresh, frozen or canned)
Pizza, (Cheese & Veggie)
Bread, all varieties   
Cheese and Crackers
Popcorn (no butter)
Fruit - fresh or dried
Sherbet, 1 scoop
Pretzels
Plain Biscuits   


AVOID:

Nutrient-poor carbohydrates:
- Jam, jelly, white sugar, marshmallows, jelly beans etc.

Fat:
- Chocolate, potato chips, tacos, nachos, cheezies
- Gravy, sauces, salad dressing, butter, margarine
- Fried Foods
- High fat cold cuts (bologna, salami, sausage)



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Breakfast - Before / During a Competition

On most competition days the breakfast is the pre-game meal. The pre-game meal offers very little for the energy production system however, it can do much damage if the wrong foods are consumed.

It has been suggested that the player enter the game with stomach as empty as possible. When there is food in the stomach, the heart pumps large volumes of blood to the stomach to aid in digestion. If playing or practicing, however, the blood is shunted to the working muscles, therefore stopping the digestive process. This often causes stomach cramps and gas, making the player very uncomfortable.


Items recommended for breakfast the day of a competition are:

Drinks, Meals & Snacks

Apple Juice
Orange Juice
Vegetable Juice
Fruit Juice
Water
Hot Chocolate
Milk
Bagels
Raisin Bran
Toast, 2-3 slices
Yogurt
Muffin, Bran - Oatmeal
Pancakes (low butter / syrup)
Bread, all varieties
Fruit bars
Fig Newtons
Fruit - fresh or dried
Raisins
Banana


AVOID:
Fat:
- Bacon, sausage, excess butter / margarine etc.

Fried Foods:
- Homefries, hash browns, fried/scrambled eggs etc.


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Lunch - During a Competition

If lunch is a pre-game meal please refer to the pre-game section. The pre-game meal offers very little for the energy production system however, it can do much damage if the wrong foods are consumed. It has been suggested that the player enter the game with stomach as empty as possible. When there is food in the stomach, the heart pumps large volumes of blood to the stomach to aid in digestion. If playing or practicing, however, the blood is shunted to the working muscles, therefore stopping the digestive process. This often causes stomach cramps and gas, making the player very uncomfortable. Items recommended for lunch the day of a competition are:

Drinks, Meal Items & Snacks

Apple Juice
Orange Juice
Vegetable Juice
Fruit Juice
Water
Milk Shake
Milk
Sandwich (2oz meat, fish or poultry)
Cup of stock soup
Bagels
Vegetables
Bread, all varieties
Fruit bars
Fig Newtons
Fruit - fresh or dried
Raisins
Apple
Banana
Cheese and crackers
Pretzels- Saltines


AVOID:
Fat:
- Excess butter / margarine etc., Salami, bologna, sausage, hamburgers, hot-dogs

Fried Foods:
- French fries, homefries, hash browns etc.


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Pre-Game Meals / Snacks - Before and During a Competition:

The GOAL:

An empty stomach and gastrointestinal tract, but enough fuel for the muscles and enough food to prevent hunger. A settled stomach and a confident athlete. A well hydrated, comfortable athlete.

Why?:

So that the blood will go to the working muscles, not the
digestive organs. Because muscles rely primarily on fuel
stored from meals eaten in the days before the competition.
Food eaten on the day of the game fuels the brain and keeps
the muscles topped up when the competition is long or intermittent.
So that pre-competition nerves don't upset the stomach.
Items recommended for pre-game meals / snacks:

Drinks & Snacks

Water
Apple Juice
Orange Juice
Fruit Juice
Fruit bars
Fig Newtons
Fruit - fresh or dried
Raisins
Apple
Banana
Saltines
Popcorn (no butter)               


1 Hour before the game:

(High carbohydrate, Low fat, little protein, Low fibre, primarily liquid)
Milk and a medium banana
Plain muffin and fruit juice
Toast with jam and milk
2 Hours before the game:
(High carbohydrate, Low fat, moderate protein)
Cereal, banana and milk
Plain muffin and fruit juice
Toast with jam and milk
3 Hours before the game:
(High carbohydrate, Moderate fat, more protein)
Sandwich - Lean meat, fish poultry or egg, milk, fruit ...or
2-3 ounces of lean meat (not fried), 1 medium potato or rice or pasta, fruit and milk ...or
Large bowl of cereal, fruit yogurt, toast, fruit