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SMART goal setting for the athlete

Setting SMART Goals

For athletes, there’s a fine line between a mediocre performance and one that pushes you past boundaries and toward success. Goals are what make the difference between the athlete that settles for the middle of the pack and one that achieves their peak performance. As athletes, goals keep us focused and provide us the added edge to push us through the mental and physical challenges of high endurance sports.

Benefits of Goal Setting

Goals provide the focus, determination, and motivation to keep us pushing forward.  Setting goals that challenge your physical performance and mental capabilities are key for growing stronger as an athlete.  

If an athlete doesn’t believe they can beat their best performance time, they will never try, or even find out what they are capable of. And that’s where setting goals comes in.

SMART Goal Setting for Athletes

A great way to determine and define your goals starts with the SMART approach. SMART is an acronym used to outline the steps of goal setting and achievement. For the endurance athlete who’s not willing to accept failure as an option, the SMART strategy looks like this.


  • Specific: Goals should be detailed and specific. Rather than strength training 3 times a week, a SMART goal would include the type of strength training exercises and numbers of reps.
  • Measurable: In order to set a goal, you should be able to measure your efforts. Goals should be quantifiable and allow you to see progress.
  • Attainable: While we often want to shoot for the sky, make sure to choose a goal that is attainable.
  • Realistic: Keep your physical and time limitations in mind to make sure the goal is realistic.
  • Time-Based: Set a structured time frame for your goals to keep you on track.


Measuring Your Success

Using the above structure will not only allow you to set realistic goals, but they will be time-bound, and measurable, allowing you to consistently build upon your success. Did you miss your mark or come in under your target time? That’s OK since you now have a goal in mind that you can go back to (or revise) that helps you move forward. What is better than working toward something bigger than yourself to improve your performance? Checking off goals as they are attained, no matter the time required, will only build your confidence and physical achievements.

Discover Your True Potential

As an athlete, you are capable of much more than you think you are. Using goals, such as with the SMART approach can be a valuable tool to drive and increase your performance. Building confidence and achieving athletic success begins by setting goals, and only then will you be able to move past your current barriers in order to live your best, healthiest life.   



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