Setting SMART goals ahead of the football season

words by Tackle Your Feelings, Friday 5 March 2021

Words by Tackle Your Feelings program psychologist Luke Jankie

With the calendar ticking over into the early days of March, we’re now only just a few short weeks away from the beginning of the AFL football season. With so much to unfold over the course of the year, it’s common to feel a mix of different emotions. Some may be filled with hope and excitement about the opportunities ahead, while others may feel pressured or overwhelmed at the thought of trying to plan for the entire year. In order to set yourself up for success rolling into any big task or timeframe, the team at TYF is going to help you tackle the art of goal setting to make things seem a little bit more manageable.

Goal setting is a deliberate process that involves outlining the specific efforts and outcomes desired by a person. Effective goalsetting can help us clarify what we want to achieve, and give us the direction to do so with method and accountability. In creating a roadmap for achieving our goals, the process also promotes strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for growth as highlighted by our progress. By extension, deliberate goal setting practices drive motivation and engagement, as they break down seemingly unattainable larger goals into achievable tasks that are more within reach.

There are lots of different things you can to help you build out a really strong reflective process for goalsetting, but we’d like to start with just a few basic tips:

  1. Write it down! Organizing your thoughts on paper can help you clarify your thoughts.
  2. Share it online or with a friend. Reflecting on your goals with others can help you refine what is actually most important to you. It can also help you with accountability, as you’re far more likely to commit to your goals if you think others might ask you about your progress!
  3. Be kind on yourself. You don’t have to do it all at once. An ocean is made up drops of water, so take confidence in knowing that drop by drop you can chip away at your bigger goals in bite size chunks that are actually realistic.

Now, there are many different formal structures that you can use to help you reflect and create goals, but we’re not going to try and reinvent the wheel here. One tool that I personally find myself thinking about regularly is the ‘SMART’ goals approach, which is described in greater detail below:

  • S – Specific: Describe specific details in terms of who, what, when, where and how
  • M – Measureable:  Ensure your goal quantifiable so you can track your progress
  • A – Achievable: Make sure you are being realistic, that your goal is actually possible
  • R – Relevant: Make sure your goals are important to you and will actually benefit you
  • T – Time-Specific: Create deadlines to encourage accountability and timeliness

An example of an individual SMART goal for a busy community coach looking to connect more with their players could be: Connect with every senior squad player for a social chat outside of football in the first half of the year.

  • Specific: Three players, every week for 10 weeks, five minute chat, over the phone
  • Measureable: Progress can be measured by weekly review of phone logs. Names of players already called to be marked off on excel spreadsheet.
  • Achievable: Despite being time poor, available for 15 minutes of player connection per week. Commute to work could be a good time to call a player.
  • Relevant: Reaching out to players will help me better understand and connect to them as individuals, which in turns will create a more comfortable and trusting environment.
  • Time-Specific: To be completed in the first 10 rounds (prior to round 11 bye)

Having only just stepped into the month of March, the year is still young. And with so many unknowns around football and life in general, it’s understandable that people might already feel burnt out, or overwhelmed at the thought of everything they want to try and achieve in 2021. However, it’s important to remember that despite the challenges we face, there are still some really powerful things that we can do to try and ease our stress and set ourselves up for success. Goalsetting is a great example of something tangible that we can all do in our own lives
(or with our players) that can really help break down a long year into more manageable pieces. So don’t be afraid to put a bit of effort into planning, mapping out the blueprint for what you want to achieve in 2021, and the roadmap for how you intend to get there!

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