As the new season is upon us we thought it would be great to share some hints and tips on the importance of setting goals with your new players, teams and squads.  Following a good season debrief (you can listen to our podcast about a season debrief here), you will already know some of the progress that has been made amongst your players and squads and hopefully your start position!  Goal setting is helpful for players to gain an understanding of where they are now and what they want to achieve over the course of the season.

We spoke to Jane Lomax, England Netball tutor, advisor, and Sport Psychologist who shared with us her expert knowledge on goal setting.

‘The importance of considering the goals we are working to for next season cannot be underestimated. The goals you and your squad choose to work towards will impact on the motivational climate you set within training and competition as well as define your philosophy behind the decisions you make. Where goals have a strong performance nature, focusing heavily on results, or league positions, your approach might be very different from a more participation, or developmental focus. The challenge is how to balance these different aspects across the season.

When deciding on this year’s goals consider the following:

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– what happened last year?

– what is this year’s context of coaching, as compared to last? Have you changed leagues, or players within your squad?

– where is this year in the bigger picture of your players’ development?

Then decide what is realistic to aspire to achieve by the end of this season. This could be results based (an outcome goal) if you want promotion or to finish in a certain stage of a league. If so, you need to recognise this is only partly under your control as you cannot control what other teams do. So consider the building blocks that might help you towards this goal, the performance or process goals, and how you might need to work these across the year to reach your end point. Chart your ideas on a timeline across the season to clarify what you want to work on in each stage of the calendar. Highlight key stages in competition so you can guide your goal setting to be ready for each.

Now consider what time you have before your matches start and leading into the early season games, what tactical and technical elements of the game would be helpful to develop? Unless you have a qualifying tournament, these can often be the least stressed games of the year, so decide what you want your tactical repertoire to look like this year and then set some goals for early season. These goals should be specific so you know whether you are achieving them and positively phrased.

Review your goals on a regular basis particularly as you move from pre-season, through early mid and late season.

Use a combination of performance goals, which are measurable elements of performance such as number of feeds from top of the D, and process goals i.e. what you want your players to do to achieve an increased percentage of feeds from top of the D. These process goals can often form your session goals within training or as part of competition goal setting and, in this example, could include methods of off the ball movement to create and then find gaps, timing elements, centre pass strategy development or players working together. Then consider the technical elements to support this.

Any goals that you set are likely to be more effective if your players are part of the decision making process rather than when you impose them, so involve them in the process. Then they are more likely to be pulling in the same direction as you!

In matches, try agreeing a team goal that goes beyond just the result and focuses on what is under your control. Maybe break this down further into what the different units will do to contribute to the team goal. Then each player can consider their Personal Responsibility In Developing Excellence (PRIDE). If these are clearly identified they can help with deciding what needs analysing during matches and can help structure feedback, from coaches, or reciprocal feedback between players.

Whatever goals you set, or agree, always use POSITIVE phraseology to encourage a growth mindset i.e. what we are going to do!’

Huge thank you to Jane for sharing her knowledge with us, I’m sure you’ll all agree there are some great tips here.

Do you have any thoughts on the above? Or would like to share your own tips on goal setting? Let us know on twitter @ENCoaching. We’d love to hear from you.

Wishing you all lots of luck with the season ahead.

Team Coaching x

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