Goals are critical to planning future outcomes. Top-level athletes and other successful people set goals as a way of getting to and staying at the top of their respective fields. In tennis, goals are set for various aspects of the game, to organize time, manage resources, and further our personal development. They include technical, tactical, mental, and physical goals. Where do you plan to be five years from now? Ten years from now? If you can’t answer these questions without hesitation, you have work to do. If you’ve set goals for yourself in the past only to discover that they were lost if the hustle of life and training or your goals were never actually started because the underlying structure wasn’t there to even begin them, don’t worry, we have a method to help you.

Many people fail in life, not for lack of ability or brains or even courage, but simply because they have never organized their energies around a goal.” -Elbert Hubbard, American Writer, Publisher, Artist, and Philosopher

We will start by writing down our goals, which is a great way to organize them, reaffirm them, motivate ourselves, and share them with supporters on our goal setting journey. Written goals also allow us to break them down into manageable pieces that build off of each other. We desire a path of achievable steps that ultimately lead toward our long-term goals and a goal setting technique known as “SMART” is a great way to do it. Keep in mind, writing down your goals is only the beginning, a lot of work lies ahead.

Affirmation without action is delusion. Just writing down goals and putting them in a drawer is not enough.” – Sara Hand, CEO Spark Growth

We want to see improvement in our technical, tactical, mental, and physical abilities, so we’ll define goals for those categories and commit to them. The SMART goal method is a wonderful way to build a hierarchy and map of our ultimate destination. SMART is defined as specific, measureable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. These are expanded upon for fuller understanding and utility below.

  • S – Specific (or Significant)
  • M – Measurable (or Meaningful)
  • A – Attainable (or Action-Oriented)
  • R – Realistic (or Relevant/Rewarding)
  • T – Time-bound (or Trackable)

Specific Goals are well defined and clear to anyone with basic knowledge of your objective. Measurable Goals are ones that are obtainable and can be measured how far away from completion you are and when you reach completion. Attainable Goals are ones that all stakeholders are in agreement with; you want to be pragmatic and align your supporters with you. Realistic Goals are ones within the availability of given resources (including people), knowledge and time. Time-Based Goals are trackable and begun when there is enough time to actually achieve the goal but not so much time that procrastination can set in or a gap forms that can affect your performance.

Focus, discipline, hard work, goal setting and, of course, the thrill of finally achieving your goals. These are all lessons in life.” -Kristi Yamaguchi, Figure Skating Gold Medalist

Champions know exactly where they’re going and what steps they need to take to achieve their goals. The reason many people never reach their goals is that they don’t work through them and believe they’re achievable. With the SMART Goal framework, you’ll have the same edge as winners in industry, sports, the arts, and other fields. SMART Goals provide that essential foundation that’s a prerequisite to application and to achieve long-term goals, we’ll start with short and medium-range goals, building from there.

The greater danger for most of us isn’t that our aim is too high and miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” – Michelangelo

So how do we apply our goals to athletic training? Athletic training comes in many forms, from formal training on the court, to webinars, books, videos, articles, conferences, certifications, and much more. Each type of training has specific measurable outcomes and achievement in concert with a professional coach or trainer along with the goal framework is a force multiplier. To that end, we’ll cover the technical, tactical, mental, and physical goals in tennis in greater detail in a subsequent post giving you steps you must apply to realize them. See you at the net!

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