Setting Goals for Success

In today’s hectic world we tend to overextend ourselves and over commit. Rather than assume that a fencer is committed, and understands that commitment to himself, his coach and his family, I believe that making the fencer aware of what it really means to achieve their goal is imperative. A serious competitive fencer must commit to goals, must commit his time, effort, sweat and understand that good enough is not good enough. There is only one winner per event, and getting the gold is why they train. For many fencers this is their first sport, and although these concepts are consistent with most sports, this is the first opportunity for them to learn about what it takes to be a winner.

When I have an athlete that wants to attain a specific goal, I have a favorite metaphor that I call the “competitive pyramid”. It is a simple multifaceted look at competitive requirements providing a holistic view of training needs. The pyramid is a overarching metaphor that provides a grouping of skills and abilities, and applies prioritization. Although this approach can be used to address a group class, a more effective use is in the definition of a specific athletes custom training regimen. Thus taking into consideration physical, mental and psychological aspects of training as it applies to a specific athlete. Setting goals and executing against specific metrics is critical in attaining a successful competitive outcome.

At the end of my workshops the fencers will understand why setting goals is imperative, what elements are important, creating contracts with their coach to assure success in attaining their goals, and a basic understanding of a framework that they can rely on as they continue their competitive career.

With these fencers, my main thrust was the physical/tactical side of the pyramid. I only touch on the mental and the psychological aspects of the game with them as necessary to support the tactical discussion.

Setting Goals, making contracts:

This activity permeates all aspects of the pyramid. And in this case we need to be even more precise and specify competitive goals. Goals must be measurable. They must also be reasonable. The fencer has 5 years of fencing experience, he has had a B rating for two seasons and continues to improve in skill and results. As his coach, he comes to me and states that he has a goal for the season… “I want to earn my A”. Although this is a worthy goal, it is a reasonable goal, and it can be measured, I believe a better goal would be “I want to win the Citrus Epee Open”. This is a better goal because we know that the Citrus Open is historically an A1 event, and has a specific date. Given this goal, winning the meet will earn the fencer his A and meet the original desired goal. In addition to meeting the original goal, given a specific date the coach can establish a training program that will optimize the athlete’s training to achieve the goal. As the date of the meet approaches, the coach will focus more and more on high energy, high performance training lessons. And they will also modify physical training to allow the athlete to hit peak potential physical performance on the day of the meet.

Once the goal is set, a plan needs to be established to achieve the stated goal. Working with the coach, the fencer needs to understand and commit to the coaches plan. Its a good idea to document the plan, especially to enable the coach and the athlete to agree and allow for increased commitments in time and effort. Although the documentation of the plan (and I’m talking about less than a page) is extra work, it helps everyone stay focused on the goal. The agreement and commitment to the plan by both parties, is the contract. And the contract needs to be executed by both parties.

Setting up the contract binds the coach and the athlete to a common goal that both parties work toward in harmony. Failure to execute against the plan by either party breaks the deal….

In summary, goals need to be:

specific
measurable
realistic
achievable

Whats your goal?

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