Although soccer is a team sport, individually, each player brings something unique and special to the table. As you develop as a player, it is important for you to discover your strengths and understand your role on the team. Setting goals for yourself allows you to improve weaknesses and enhance strengths through directed training. Sometimes though, outside expectations influence your own individual goals, causing you to set goals to achieve what others expect of you, rather than what you expect of yourself. Hope Solo, goalkeeper for the U.S. Women’s National Team once said: “If you truly expect to realize your dreams, abandon the need for blanket approval. If conforming to everyone’s expectations is the number one goal, you have sacrificed your uniqueness, and therefore your excellence.” By sticking to her own dreams, Solo was able to avoid sacrificing her uniqueness and her excellence. She has led the U.S. Women’s National Team to two Olympic gold medals, and was individually awarded goalkeeper of the year in 2009, and the Golden Glove in the FIFA 2011 Women’s World Cup. This Friday, Solo will attempt to add to that resume when the USWNT faces off against China in the FIFA World Cup quarterfinals.
Your personal dreams determine the specific goals you set for yourself. As Solo notes, in order to realize your dreams, you must often disregard others’ expectations for you, and focus on the expectations you have for yourself. Maybe you only want to play soccer through high school, or continue to play through college, or even attempt to play professionally. Once you know what your dreams are, you may begin to set goals that will help you achieve them. Set goals that are unique to you as a player, rather than goals that conform to the expectations of others. Break these goals down into steps (outcome, performance, and process goals) that will help you stick to them. An outcome goal is the equivalent to your dream – your big-picture goal, such as winning the state tournament. Performance goals focus on specific skills that, with improvement, will build the blocks to your big-picture goal. As a goalkeeper who wants to help your team win the state tournament, your performance goal may be to improve the accuracy of your distribution. Finally, process goals include when, where, and how you will specifically achieve your performance goal. Thus, a process goal is a daily training plan you can follow to help you achieve your goals. A process goal to improve a goalkeeper’s distribution may involve arriving 20 minutes early to training, 3 times a week and working with a teammate on various forms of distributing the ball safely and accurately (i.e., rolling, throwing, punting, drop-kicking, etc.). This is a continuous process that allows you to improve and grow as a player. By setting personal goals, you maintain your sense of uniqueness as a player and pave your path to excellence by pursuing your dreams.
High Performance Sports provides sport psychology services to athletes for performance enhancement