As the new season draws ever closer there will be thousands of golfers hitting the range in a quest to have their game in tip top condition for 2015. However many of these golfers will just be aimlessly practising for the sake of it without any specific purpose. Goal setting can offer a purpose for both practise and match situations and help increase focus and determination, whilst providing a good source of confidence when you reach your goals. As a golfer it is important to implement goal setting, with your goals constantly changing throughout the year. However one mistake many golfers make is setting unrealistic goals, often resulting in a loss of confidence when not being able to achieve these unlikely targets. When goal setting is used correctly it can significantly help with monitoring improvements, replace fear and nervousness with a focus, whilst helping to maximise practise sessions. An effective way of goal setting is by using SMARTER goals:
SPECIFIC: Effective goals are ones that are precise and clear rather than those that are very general and broad. Specific goals address points such as ‘what do I want to achieve, where must I do this and when should it be performed’. For example ‘This season I want to reduce my handicap from 18 to 15, playing at least once a week and practising twice a week at the driving range’, versus, ‘I want to be better at golf’
MEASUREABLE: Measureable goals are those which are quantifiable. Luckily in golf progress can be easily measured by the handicap system and also keeping track of other stats such as how many putts or how many GIR you hit.
ACHIEVABLE: It is important that the goals you set are attainable, for example you cannot have the goal of playing 7 rounds of golf a week whilst having a job that entails working 12 hours days.
REALISTIC: Realistic goals represent targets that you are both WILLING and ABLE to achieve. You must put a level head on and set goals that will stretch you but also goals that are in reach. For example lowering your handicap from 28 to scratch in a year is an unrealistic goal, whereas lowering it from 28 to 23 is a realistic goal that you will be able to achieve.
TIME RELATED: All goals have to have an end point that can be marked out. Time frames can provide a sense of urgency and drive to help motive you.
EVALUATE: Goals need to be evaluated regularly and adjusted as needed to account for changes in circumstances.
RE-DO: Simply repeat the process after the evaluation process, going through the SMARTER model again to set new goals to help you reach your new objectives.
Using the simple SMARTER goals model will help you set clearer and more concise goals, enabling you to structure practise sessions and play golf with more purpose. It is also important to reward yourself for reaching your goals and feel proud of your achievements, activating a positive feedback loop, something that will encourage further goal setting. If you do not reward yourself you will not build the positive goal setting habits that are represented by so many successful athletes.
So go and set yourself some SMARTER goals for this season.
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About Scott Hassall
Scott is a Stage 2 Sport and Exercise Psychologist Trainee. He is passionate about making a difference to the lives of the athletes he works with.