This is the time of year that people around the world set New Years resolutions for better habits and results in the coming year. For athletes, it is a great time to turn attention to the upcoming season, improve their skills and create great daily habits to increase performance on the field.
It is proven that people who regularly make short and long range goals are more successful than those who do not. It is also proven that setting goals (or resolutions) correctly and sticking to them is very difficult and the failure rate is very high.
Below are three levels of goals that we are requiring our players to complete by the end of the weekend.
Level 1 (Long Term Goals): Write down 2 individual goals for the season, or what you would like to accomplish this season on the baseball field.
Level 2 (Checkpoint Goals): Write down 2 individual goals (based upon your season goals) to achieve in the next 3 months (end of March) to help you have success achieving your season goals.
Level 3 (Daily Checklist): Create a checklist of drills, fundamentals, or actions you can take every day to set you down the path to achieving your checkpoint and season goals.
Level 3 is the most important aspect of goal setting. This is your plan to reach your goal. A goal is not a goal without a plan. Our long term goals are hard to reach without a daily change in behavior that moves us down the path to positive results.
I had a great coach long ago that always reminded us of this by using the mantra, “How you gonna do it?” We heard this from him every at bat, every inning, every day. He knew that we were a very highly functioning group and had lofty goals for ourselves. His job was to remind us that what we wanted to achieve was not as important as how we go about getting it done…every day. The how is what builds strategy, structure, and discipline in our daily routines.
We want our players to focus on the “how” in achieving our goals. Our long term goal is our prize at the end of a journey. The “How you gonna do it” every day is the key to success!!
Anatomy of a Goal
Our goals should be challenging, but realistic and achievable with a lot of hard work. They should also be quantifiable so that we can track progress. Lastly, they should be controllable in that you should not have to rely on others to make these goals happen. For example, a goal to be a better teammate is admirable, but is difficult to quantify. A better strategy is to break this goal into components of being a good teammate. A pre-season “Better Teammate” goal could be (1) Going to every open gym before the season, and (2) Creating an accountability group (or just one other player) to make sure a core group of teammates is attending a certain number of open gyms, with (3) Each member of the group working together to create a practice plan for each open gym. A long range goal could be (1) To create an informal mentoring program where the older players “adopt” a younger player to help them learn at a faster rate and feel more comfortable on the team during the season. These goals are now quantifiable in that a player can check off the list if they have (1) Created an accountability group, and (2) Mentoring program. A daily goal would be to make sure the group is communicating 2 times per week (on a schedule) discussing what they will be working on in open gyms.
Goal Setting Exercise
Create a weekly plan, based upon your current academic and in-season sport schedule, to accomplish your daily/weekly goals.
It is always very tricky to be able to balance other current (in-season) activities with baseball, an off-season activity. We have found an effective process to create a realistic but productive schedule for positive movement toward goals while juggling other sports, academics, and family time.
1. Step 1: Assess how much free time after school you actually have. Take into account all priorities that rank above baseball/softball training. These include any family time or activities, in-season sports, ample time set aside for academics/homework, and adding into the schedule a consistent and early bed time. After this exercise, you now have a good estimate of the amount of time you can schedule in training on a daily basis. Also, be sure to build in a day off. If you are setting your daily schedule correctly, you will need a day off. Our bodies and minds need it to re-energize.
Each day will likely be different in how much time you have available for baseball. That is ok. At least now you know what you have to work with.
2. Step 2: Create a list of drills or activities for baseball/softball that will take you closer to your pre-season and end of season goals. This list can be lengthy, with any and all drills or exercises you can think of. This is your rough draft version that will be revised as you go through the first couple of weeks. One quick test for each of these drills is to ask the question – Does this drill or activity help me come closer to reach one or more of my goals?
3. Step 3: Create of “Daily Grid” for the week. Picture this in a spreadsheet or table. Day of the week at the top of the column. Each row is reserved for drills or exercises to go on your checklist. Also, add to each day how much time you estimate to have for baseball training.
4. Step 4: Create a checklist for each day with any regular after school activities you have higher on your priority list than baseball/softball training. You can be as detailed as you would like, including time slots for the activities, color coding by priority for quick glance reference.
5. Step 5: Add your Baseball/Softball Activities to fill up your time available on that day. Go through every day of the week, including assigning a Day Off in writing to make sure you are building that into your schedule.
If you go through these steps, you now have a rough draft of your daily checklist. We have provided an example below. Pay much more attention to the general format rather than the content. The content will be customized for every individual.
Every player has different preferences in how to document and plan. Use any format that works for you.
This exercise may take some time to think through all of the variables of drill options and time available per day. Do not be afraid to spend ample time on this step in the process. It is part of the success formula of goal setting. Showing up every week to think about your goals and plan for them is one of the best habits you can create.
Enjoy this process of creating your weekly schedule and checklist. You are heading in the right direction for your success….on the field and off.
Thank you for reading and good luck.
Former Major League Player
Owner- Woodall Baseball Academy and Silver Sluggers