Goal Setting

So you’re a coach.  You have a lot of ideas to share with your athletes.  You see things you want to change.  You want results.

Have you ever thought of your team issues as like Wack a Mole?  You address one problem and before you know it, another pops up.  Just when you think you have things under control, the same old issue rears its ugly, rodent-face.

What’s the solution?  Set goals (and always have your hammer ready)

Goals are the target you aim to hit.  Each should be practical, realistic, and time-based.  Never mind how you’re going to accomplish your goals (yet) but just by establishing goals under these 3 qualities, you’re on the way to better outcomes.

1.  Practicality:
It basically means “is your goal going to apply to useful, real-world situations?”  Say for instance you want all of your paddlers to be able to run under a 10 minute mile or bench press over 50% of their body weight in the gym because lifting weight and running require fitness.  They sound like fair goals, but you should think about how this will translate into a benefit to dragon boating directly.  Will fast legs or pushing weights in front your body help paddlers move the boat faster?  What exactly will succeeding in your goal help with dragon boat racing?  If you, the coach, don’t know the answer to that question, your athletes certainly won’t.

Create your goal to be as directly applicable to the task at hand as possible.  You’ll see results faster and inspire more confidence in your athletes that what you’re telling them is going to help in a big way.

2.  Realism:
Can your goal even be accomplished?  Sounds stupid but it happens.  Maybe you want to win 1st place in the A division, be the best of the best, kings/queens of the watery hill.  You train your team hard, put in many hours, see them improve every time, and you finish in 3rd place….of the B division.  What happened?  Maybe you only had 1/2 – 3/4 crew for a majority of your practices.  Maybe the majority of your paddlers haven’t even raced before.  Whatever the reason, your goal wasn’t realistic given your circumstances.

Know your team dynamics, know your paddlers’ strengths/weakness individually, and know your limits as a coach.  Your goal should be tailored to fit your team so that you have the best chance of success.  This is different than being a half cup full/empty kinda person.  Given your extensive knowledge of the team, what can they accomplish?  What goals are too easy, reasonable, and out of reach (currently)?  You can set goals that are satisfying to meet and progressive without being unrealistic.

3.  Timely
How long do you have to accomplish your goal?  What will you do during that time to foster success?  This provides your framework for action.  Is a local race happening in 2 months?  Do you plan to compete at the international level next year?  You can’t expect to win races with just 2 wks practice.  Likewise, you may be hard pressed to keep people motivated 1 year in advance of an event?  Will you burn people out or injure them if you push tasks too fast?  Will you bore them out of their minds if you don’t have a definite timeline for anything?

Set yourself a timeline for your goals and write out steps you plan to take to see everything in place.  You and your paddlers will be more motivated and meeting goals will become a regular occurrence.

All in all, setting goals can help you set up your season decisively in small chunks.  All my examples were in relation to coaching the team, but you too can make personal goals as a coach!  Think of it as like New Year Resolutions.  Set your goals and by the end of the season, you can look back and feel good about what you accomplished as well as think critically about what you didn’t meet and why.


If you enjoyed reading, please consider making a donation.  We SFL bloggers write and paddle for the love of the sport but, like many other things, blogging takes time away from work, family, and paddling (in increasing order of importance, j/k).  Every contribution (no matter how small) helps raise money for the team to race and use better equipment.  As a team, you have our thanks for anything you can spare in helping us out.  You may use this link:

Click to go to PayPal Donation Page

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