Setting Goals - for swimmers

Setting Goals

Every athlete wants to excel, but the will to excel is insignificant without the will to prepare to excel. Preparation is where many athletes fail. Most are willing to put in hours on top of hours of training, but almost no time is devoted to planning or record keeping. This planning (and tracking) is essential, because planning is the first step to achieving any goal - including those accomplished in athletics. Your vision of where you want to be – your goal – is your greatest asset. A goal without a plan is just a wish. Knowing how and understanding why past training and peaking has influenced your performances (record keeping) makes attaining these goals a practice in reality.

Goals should be as objective as possible (measurable and performance-oriented), as specific as possible (performance and time-sensitive), and above all realistic to your level of athletic and competitive abilities. Keeping your season goals to two or possibly three major goals will help streamline your focus and simplify your training and regenerative efforts.

The following goal is a specific example of what a season goal of a highly skilled athlete might look like:


-Achieve a best time in the 50 yd. freestyle in competition by January 15.-
(Current best time of 20.10 in 50 yd. freestyle)

Write your goals down and put them in a conspicuous place, like by the bathroom mirror or on the fridge, so that you’ll see them often. Keep a copy in your training bag, as well, so you are reminded of your goals at practice. This will be a frequent reminder of your precise competitive desires, and as you’ll see below, of the how and why you planned on achieving them.

The methods and training objectives needed to attain your season goals are listed next. These again should be as objective, specific and realistic as possible. Methods listed can be complex or simple, just be sure to match your methods to your season goals. Daily training methods and objectives can vary greatly from day-to-day, but should also fall in line with your season goals. Training methods are the “how” to get to your goals. Training objectives are the performance markers on the road to your goals. They are the specific values, aspects of fitness, and/or the performances needed to achieve your season goals. The following are examples of two training methods and a training objective that supports the previous athlete’s goal mentioned.


-Include max speed work in practices at a volume of 600 yd per week.-

-Include extra quality kicking each day to equal at least 1000 yd per week.-


-Swim 50 free in practice in less than 21 seconds by December 15.-

Motivations are the “why” you are doing the training and striving toward your goals. Again, this could be as simple as “To be the best in the State,” or a complex, layered, psychological explanation. It is most important that your motivation has meaning for YOU. Use your motivations to keep your training, regeneration, and competition efforts inspired.

Space is provided at the bottom of your goal sheet for your ultimate goal. Perhaps this is the same as your season goal, perhaps two or three years down the road – whichever, it will help you keep an eye toward the future and what you ultimately envision for yourself in your sport.

Daily training or practice goals are extremely useful in reaching your season goals and objectives. They are the “baby steps” on your way to your larger goals. Practice goals can vary from day-to-day, and are highly individual, so be sure that your practice goals are in line with your season goals.

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