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 6 Simple Reasons Why Athletes Fail to Meet Their Goals
(5/27/2021)
 
 
   

6 Simple Reasons Why Athletes Fail to Meet Their Goals


Why your athlete is struggling with their goals and how to find success


If your young athlete tends to lose focus partway through a season or fails to achieve their goals by the end of the season, they aren’t alone. Setting and achieving suitable goals isn’t an easy task, especially for kids who are also dealing with the expectations of the adults around them.

Here, Daniel Gould, PhD, director of the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports at Michigan State University, explains why your athlete is struggling with their goals and what they can do differently to find success.

1. They Don’t Have Ownership
“With kids, it's easy for them not to own their goal,” says Gould. "In other words, a coach or a parent often tells them what their goal is, and because they didn’t come up with it, the athlete really doesn't have the drive to commit to it.”

You can help an athlete overcome this roadblock by letting them make a list of goals for the season without any input from you. You can discuss the goals after they are written out, but until then, refrain from giving advice. Make sure it's really the athlete’s goals, not them echoing what they’ve heard or been told.

2. They Don’t Have a Plan
“Every adult has experience making a New Year’s Resolution that we didn't follow up on,” Gould says. "That’s because we spend so much time identifying what the goal is, but then we spend a lot less time developing the plan for achieving it.” Without a plan for getting to the finish line, a young athlete is dreaming, not goal-setting.

Gould explains, “A child might say, 'I want to make the starting lineup.' But to make the starting lineup, do they know what do they need to do? Most kids will say, 'I don't know.' But you can help your athlete figure it out. Depending on the sport, it may be 'I need to improve certain types of shots.’ Or more simply, 'I need to be on time to every practice.’” Help your child create a road map, either written out or drawn as a timeline, of how to achieve each goal.

3. They Don’t Revisit the Goal
"This is a really common problem,” Gould says. "Everybody sets goals at the beginning of the year, but rarely do they revisit them on a regular basis to evaluate progress. Goal-setting only works if people get feedback relative to their goal.” Both coaches and parents can figure out a way to create ongoing feedback for an athlete and incorporate some kind of metric or evaluation.

Research has also showed that motivation tends to wane between the time of goal-setting and the point of achieving the goal, but setting related mini-goals that are actionable can keep motivation high.

4. The Goals Are Too Vague or Too Big
"We know that goals that are specific and measurable are much more effective than 'do your best' general goals,” Gould says. "For example, if I tell my kid that I want him to have a better attitude, that’s extremely general. That means so many things to different people. Instead, really break down what behaviors you want to see, such as demonstrating good sportsmanship, not making any snide remarks to officials, hustling between all drills, and saying thank you to your coach. Really clarify what success means.”

And goals don’t have to be massive championship-winning goals to be satisfying. Research has shown that smaller goals that are more easily achieved can be incredibly satisfying, so make sure that your athlete isn’t just setting huge goals.

5. They Expect Perfection
Basketball legend Michael Jordan famously said that he missed more than 9,000 shots in his career. There are baseball players in the Hall of Fame who failed seven out of 10 times at the plate. “The whole idea that you have to be perfect is just unrealistic, yet kids believe that it’s possible,” says Gould.

“But sports are a great way to teach a young person that one failure doesn’t mean that a goal is now unachievable or out of reach. If they fail at a goal, just help them reboot: Set new, realistic goals based on new information.” Later in life, we rarely have the opportunity to learn from failures with minimal repercussions, so use youth sport as a way for kids to build those skills and resilience that will serve them outside of sport and later in life.

6. Their Goals Aren’t Your Goals
Sometimes, an athlete’s failure to meet a goal is simply a case of mismatched expectations between them and an adult. For instance, a parent might have been the star defensive soccer player in high school and therefore expect the same from their child - even though that young athlete would rather be playing tennis. Make sure athletes actually want to achieve the goals that they set!

Takeaway
It’s not surprising that many young athletes lose interest in goals or fail to achieve their goals during a season. Keep these barriers to success in mind as you help your young athletes set and work towards their goals.



TrueSport®, a movement powered by the experience and values of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, champions the positive values and life lessons learned through youth sport. TrueSport® inspires athletes, coaches, parents, and administrators to change the culture of youth sport through active engagement and thoughtful curriculum based on cornerstone lessons of sportsmanship, character-building, and clean and healthy performance, by creating leaders across communities through sport.


 Gathering Information
(5/4/2021)
 
 
   

Gathering Information


Cuddyer's Corner
By Michael Cuddyer


Former Major Leaguer Michael Cuddyer discusses the importance of gathering as much information as you can so you are able to filter through it in your mind and apply it to your game. To have your questions answered by Michael Cuddyer, submit them using #USABMailbag on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.


Michael Cuddyer is a 15-year MLB veteran and two-time All-Star, spending his career playing for the Minnesota Twins, Colorado Rockies and the New York Mets. A member of the USA Baseball 18U National Team in 1996 and 1997, Cuddyer was then named the 1997 Virginia Player of the Year, Gatorade National Player of the Year, and was a member of USA Today’s All-Star team. He was selected ninth overall in the 1997 MLB Amateur Player Draft by the Minnesota Twins.


 Giving Back: How Teams Can Meaningfully and Safely Give Back
(4/21/2021)
 
 
   

Giving Back: How Teams Can Meaningfully and Safely Give Back


How your child or team can give back this season in a safe, healthy way


COVID-19 has forced the cancellation of many school sports, but coaches and parents can use this opportunity to help young athletes focus on giving back to their communities. Right now, with practices and competitions mostly on hold, team unity can be found through volunteer opportunities instead of games and scrimmages. Kids can learn the importance of helping others and giving back while bonding as a team so that next year, they can come back stronger than ever. Even better, research has found that volunteering can also provide a boost to mental health in these tough times.

Jamie Kay Discher, Director of Girl Experience for the Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey has a few ideas on how your child or your team can give back this season in a safe, healthy way.

Get informed
In the Girl Scouts, volunteer opportunities aren’t just listed as things that need to be ticked off a checklist: The girls are encouraged to decide on projects that they’re passionate about, and then the leaders get involved to help with the specifics. But Discher believes that the research and decision-making is an important part of the giving back process. "Generally, the first step for anyone who's looking to perform service is to figure out what you're interested in,” says Discher. Have your team brainstorm ways that they’d like to give back. Make a list of options. Then, Discher says the second step is to make sure that you're actually filling a need in the community. For example, check with an animal shelter to see if they really need food or bedding donations before starting a collection process!

Get outside
Stream, park, and roadside cleanups are easy examples of socially distanced activities that make an impact and allow youth to spend time outside, says Discher. "We've had a lot of success coming up with safe ways for girls to perform service outside, doing things like watershed cleanups and forest regeneration projects. Those kinds of opportunities continue to be viable even while we're socially distanced.”

For your athletes, this could be as simple as doing an unofficial trash pickup during a hike in a popular park area, or you can contact your local parks and recreation department to see where the local need is greatest.

Get online
There are countless ways to take your volunteerism online. "For example, we had one girl who was doing a project to help residents living in assisted living facilities by teaching them how to protect themselves from cybercrime,” Discher says. “Obviously, when the pandemic hit, she couldn't go into those places. So, she got creative and took all the lessons that she was planning to prepare in person and recorded them as videos. Then she got the center to host the video on their TV systems so the residents could watch. She still managed to reach her target audience, she still managed to perform the service that she was looking to perform.”

Your athletes may not be ready to create a course on tackling cybercrime, but they could potentially create or teach something suited to their strengths, like virtual painting or cooking classes through a local library!

Get offline
While athletes can’t go into senior living facilities to provide comfort and entertainment, athletes can still become pen pals with people in senior centers who are craving contact with others right now. The Girl Scouts have an official national service project dedicated to this, but your team can simply contact local nursing homes and senior centers to see if there is any interest in starting a program. For younger athletes in particular, this is a great way to practice their penmanship and writing skills, Discher adds.

Get involved with citizen science service projects
“Citizen Science projects harness the idea that anyone can contribute to science research, generally using some sort of computer interface,” Discher explains. "SciStarter is a product of the National Science Foundation and has a slew of different research projects where they just need people to go look at their environment and report back to get a whole new set of data.”

The SciStarter website lets you choose your research project, and some—like this OpenSidewalks survey —can be done while running or walking. It’s a great way to help contribute to science while getting miles in for young athletes.

Takeaway
While it’s not ideal that sports have been interrupted by COVID-19, athletes can still give back to their communities in meaningful ways while practicing social distancing and other safety precautions.



TrueSport®, a movement powered by the experience and values of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, champions the positive values and life lessons learned through youth sport. TrueSport® inspires athletes, coaches, parents, and administrators to change the culture of youth sport through active engagement and thoughtful curriculum based on cornerstone lessons of sportsmanship, character-building, and clean and healthy performance, by creating leaders across communities through sport.


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