SMART targets

Sometimes people's goals are too vague or distant. Participants lack commitment or get demotivated because their goals appear too difficult to reach. Setting SMART goals can make that goal seem – and be – more achievable and also improve and/or optimise the performance.

Goals that are SMART are:

  • Specific – very clear and relate directly to the task or skill
  • Measurable – evaluate progress against a standard or assess against previous performance
  • Achievable – realistic, not too hard but not too easy, challenging but within the performer's capacity
  • Recorded – write it down by keeping a log or training diary
  • Timed – state when it will be achieved, set a time limit for completion (goals may be short term or longer term, but should always have timed steps along the way)

Examples of SMART goal setting

In this example, Person A is a runner and Person B is a volleyball player.

Person APerson B
SRun the Manchester 10 k in a time of 1 hourTo receive serve and make a controlled dig to the setter consistently
MRun three times a week, including one longer run and decrease times by one minute every two weeksOne set of ten reps twice a week in training and measure out of ten
A5 k time is 23 mins; current 10 k time is 1 hour 5 mins70% success rate in training (7/10)
RLog weekly 5 k/10 k run times and split timesRecord scores in training diary
T20 June2 weeks' time

'I will be a better netball shooter' is Harriet’s goal. Give three ways in which you could apply the SMART principles to this goal.

Any three of the following:

Specific – improve the accuracy of my shooting

Measurable – 10 shots from 3m away twice a week and measure out of 10

Achievable – 1 m and 2 m shots are 90% successful (8/10); 3 m shots should be 80% successful (8/10)

Recorded – write down scores in training log

Timed – by half-term

SMART targets are used in all aspects of life – such as applying for jobs – not just in sport.
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