Every athlete has goals they want to achieve. The problem isn’t always the desire to have goals, but in the way the goals are set. I often use Allen Iverson as an example of someone who always talked about his goal of “winning a championship”. Yet, Iverson’s infamous comments about “practice” have long lived in Youtube lore, with close to 6 million hits. There’s no doubt that Iverson was one of the greatest scorers of all-time, and his will to compete when the lights were on was unbelievable, but perhaps his goal of winning a championship never occurred because of his lack of organized goal setting.
Many athletes are misguided in where they direct their attention. Often they focus on outcome goals—win a championship, be an all-star, average 20 points per game, etc. While setting outcome goals can be effective, and I believe they are somewhat necessary, setting practice goals that give you a road map are even more important.
As an athlete you determine how you practice. Sure a coach may have you for an hour or two a day, but after that you can decide how you want to use your time. Create practice goals that you want to accomplish on a daily, weekly, and monthly level. Goals like making 50 free throws a day, 300 a week, and 1200 a month. Create a process for success.
While playing time is largely out of your control, the amount you work on your craft in practice is almost completely in your control. Practice goals lead to improvement in skill, which leads to the best opportunity to getting the desired outcome. The process of improvement should be at the forefront of your mind rather than simply the dream.
What goals do you want to establish today? How can you improve today so that you’ll be better tomorrow? What’s going to give you the best opportunity to succeed a year from now? Know your outcome goals, but direct your attention to your process.