Are You Getting Your Goals All Wrong?
If I told you that your team goals were actually setting you up for failure would you take a step back and look at everything you do with your players?
That’s today’s goal. I want you to start from the top.
In our last newsletter we discussed establishing a team culture, in my opinion, the most important thing you can do when starting your season. After thinking through what our values and philosophies of our team we often see that the goals coaches place upon their team are counter productive to the culture they originally wanted to build. Problems at the first hurdle!
Today we are going to dissect team goal setting so that you can continually build upon a solid team culture and so you can engrain a rock solid team spirit that will support every player in growing physically and psychologically.
Even the best coaches get stuck in the trap of goal setting. I’m not even sure the traditional view of writing down goals or having a bucket-list type of scenario is even necessary, but supporting your team to paint a picture of where they want to be at season’s end, or game by game, is always a good idea. Presenting a case for what each player wants to achieve and what they can help the team achieve will never hurt.
How it is executed can have a massive psychological impact on what happens next with your team.
The typical coach moves through a few key questions to invite the team into a goal setting mentality.
“What do you want to accomplish as a team by the end of the season?”
Answers vary from win the league to win the cup.
“What do you want to accomplish as a player?”
Score the most goals, keep the most clean sheets, or establish myself as the assist leader.
You have seen this before I know. Maybe you’ve even asked those questions, even to the youngest teams isn’t unfamiliar. Win the next game. Score more, save more, never lose to anyone. Now I’m not going to rail on about the win-at-all cost mentality that exists in youth sport right now but just assume it has an impact. For argument’s sake, let’s use a professional team as our example. A team that must win. I will encourage you to see your team within this context. You are smart enough to see through the eyes of your team, whatever ages they are. The point of goal setting with your team and players remains remarkably consistent no matter the age.
The failure lies in the control.
And we all do this.
Establishing goals that the team can’t 100% control leaves us in a position where our culture can only erode. You won’t win every match if your goalkeeper gets hurt early in the season. Perhaps you won’t win the league because another team in your division are simply stacked with incredible players. Individually you cannot suggest you will be the leading goal scorer, especially if you aren’t getting the service from other players. These types of winning and statistical goals leave players in a position to allow blame and to unnecessarily rely on others.
Your team cannot control delivering a win or a goal.
They can’t control what other teams in the league do, and so slowly, a goal like this allows them to lose the power of controlling their own situation. If things start to go in a bad direction, which over the course of a season can easily happen, goals that rely on results like wins will quickly turn the team on itself.
Choose goals your players have complete control over.
Choose goals with them but direct their attention to what they want and the process they might use.
You’ve all seen professional coaches interviewed after a game and rolled your eyes as they discuss – ‘the process’ or ‘the system’ – and how their team did or didn’t adhere to it, regardless of the days result.
Many Play Better teams establish developmental metrics based around the process and concept of young players simply getting better by year’s end. They don’t look at wins and losses but more whether players succeed in being better than they were at the beginning of the season. These targets allow the team or players to reach for a win but invite the coaches to really dig deep and deliver a program to improve the players techniques and decision making skills. Areas that yield a better player over time.
Goals are given to the players where they can control the outcome. Where they can own the targets and enjoy the process. These team or individual goals will rely on others but not cripple an individual from reaching their own personal levels of success because someone else had a good or bad performance. These goals start to sound more like this.
“For our team to try and reach a target of 200 completed passes, I will work on checking over my shoulder every time I want to receive a ball.”
“To support our team keep a clean sheet, I will work on dropping off every time another player goes up for a header and if I am the one the ball is directed to I will attack the ball each time.”
“I will be confident when playing the ball to our midfielders or across the back line and I will always be looking to get into open space.”
“I will support each and every one of my teammates by being vocal throughout the match so they know I am there and with them.”
“I really want to emulate professional players so I am going to be brave with my passes but concentrate on delivering solid passes that reach their target each and every time I get on the ball.”
Put the power back in the hands of your players.
Now, if those very same players go out and begin executing on their painted pictures, do you think the results they all want may arrive? If they begin to break down their roles and, reach for their targets, will the team reach it’s developmental targets more often than not?
It’s not a guess to suggest that each player reaching their personal goals will add up to a team that ends up with bigger results on the scoreboard. Small goals achieved add up to big things, and all without harming the psyche of your team.
Break down each player and what your team needs to work on. Set targets individually and developmental programs for them to work on. Support them reach team targets by achieving their individual goals. Every simple set of player specific goals should layer into how your team wants to perform and how you’ve set up your team philosophy to exist. The key is that the power of how those goals are attained must be left in the hands of the players…
…and nobody else.
Set your culture. Set your goals.
Make sure they fit together.
Players need to own their goals and be able to achieve them.
Go. Play Better.