Why Most Sports Goals Fail

Sports Goal Type No.2: Outcome Goals

Outcome goals are goals in which participants focus on the end result, the outcome, or a PRODUCT-type measurement as the standard of comparison.

These are the most often recited and typically utilized types of goals among coaches and athletes. While participants "think" they have control over outcome goals, the facts indicate that athletes and coaches have only partial control (at best), or little to no control over the ultimate successful achievement of outcome goals.

Examples of outcome goals are:

  • Become a starting member of the team this season
  • Win the league championship
  • Achieve the school scoring record before graduating

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Sports Goal Type No.3: Do Your Best Goals

"Do your best" goals are obvious from the title itself. The focus is not on specific standards of proficiency, process or outcome other than asking the participants to "give it their best shot", try hard and "do your best".

Examples of this third type of goal would be saying;

  • "I'll try my best to play well in today's game"
  • "We'll try our best to play good defense"
  • "I'll try to be a better coach this season"

What is clear in these examples, is that do your best goals lack the specificity and detail that are so apparent in the first two types.

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Which Type is Best?

While it may be easier and more convenient to set outcome goals in sport, experts recommend and the sport psychology literature clearly indicates, that the most favorable results in performance occur when athletes and coaches set performance goals.

In fact, process goals will allow you to achieve greater success, if they are correctly and consistently utilized, than either outcome or do your best goals. Good luck setting your own goals.

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About the Author

Dr. Colleen Hacker, Sports Psychology Contributor

Colleen Hacker Ph.D., is a Professor of Movement Studies and Wellness Education at Pacific Lutheran University, as well as consultant for the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team.

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