Glenn and I have just embarked on a new season of working with some kids in our area. This gives us an opportunity to impart our knowledge, and fulfills our desire to torture young kids in positive ways. I say that jokingly and as a reference to the variety of equipment that the swimmers have to use on a daily basis.
Recently we sat down with all of the kids we are working with to talk about their goals. Each one of the kids had to come up with three goals for their season. A season goal can be any number of things, depending on the swimmer. With the group that we work with the answers ranged from, "being able to swim the 100 and 200 butterfly again," to "making senior nationals." The beauty of having a goal is that it is personal. There is no right or wrong — just different. The goal should simply be a reflection of what YOU want, and not what others want from you, or expect of you.
In addition to asking the kids to set seasonal goals, we felt it was important for them to be thinking long range. We want them to set where-do-you-want-to-go-in-the-sport kind of goals. Each kid wrote down three long-term goals. Again these were wide ranging, from "to be able to look back at all I did and really be proud of how far I came, from where I started" to "win NCAA/Nationals." These are great goals. Each kid has an idea of where he or she wants to go over the next few years.
There were a few of the goals, both seasonal and long term, that needed to be polished up a little. Not that they were wrong — just too vague. For instance, one of the kids had a season goal of making his nationals cut in the 100 and 200 breaststroke. When he was asked what the time for that cut was he replied "I don’t know." His next mission was to get on the nerd net and find out exactly what the times were to qualify for Nationals. Only after he new exactly what his goal time needed to be, was his goal complete.
After the swimmers decided on their season goals and long term goals, they had to read them aloud to the rest of the group. I think this is one of the most beneficial parts of having a training group. When you make your goals public to a group, they can help to hold you to those goals. Let’s face it, there are going to be days of practice where each and every one of these kids feels like they can’t do it. With the help of their training partners they will be able to make it.
So each kid in this training group has goals for the end of the season and for their careers. While being important and necessary, just having the goals is the easy part. The meeting closed with a talk about how we were going to make these goals happen. Every day, at the beginning of practice, each kid has to tell us hsi or her specific goal for that practice. The only way for them to achieve the goals they have set in front of themselves is to focus on what has to be done on a daily basis.