The Importance of Goal Setting in Youth Sports

goals in youth sports

How to Help Young Athletes Develop a Growth Mindset

Christian Buck, a performance coach and author of The Sport of School, says it’s critical for young athletes–and students–to establish a long-term vision and goals that support it.

He teaches high schoolers how to create a vision and goals–in both sports and school.

Let’s say a student wants to go to an Ivy League college. That’s the vision. To get there, the student needs to set goals that allow him or her to attain that vision.

Here’s how Buck puts this idea to work in sports.

“I was coaching a high school track team and before the season started, we talked about what the goal is by the end of the season.”

The team members wanted to win the state championships. To achieve that main goal, or vision, they needed to establish smaller goals.

“They all wrote down their goals and every day I would remind them before a practice: What is your goal and at the end of practice, did you get closer to that goal?” That strategy helped focus the young athletes and by the end of the season, the team won the state championship for the first time in 51 years, he says.

While goal setting can help kids focus and feel motivated, it can also impose pressure and high expectations on kids.

Buck stresses that ultimately, the process is more important than the product, whether it’s the win, the stats or grades in school.

“I’m really about the intrinsic motivators,” he says. To help kids uncover their intrinsic motivators, he asks them what they like about sports. They may say they like working hard, or being part of a team. It’s important to focus on those motivators and not pile too many expectations on kids about scores or wins, he says.

Motivating kids is also about helping them embrace a growth mindset.

“The growth mindset says that the physical abilities or intellect we are born with can continuously be grown.” A fixed mindset, on the other hand, stifles motivation. Sports kids with a fixed mindset tend to tell themselves that they can’t get any better and so won’t try to improve.

Sports parents need to help kids establish goals, and also help them embrace a growth mindset, understanding that hard work can help them achieve their goals, he says.

Listen to the Ultimate Sports Parent Podcast:

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Help Your Young Athletes Improve Focus In Sports!

The Focused Sports Kid

Are your young athletes easily distracted by people shouting on the sidelines? Do they obsess over their mistakes? Do they worry about what people think of them?

These issues will cause their concentration and performance to suffer!The Focused Sports Kid helps kids overcome distractions that can hurt their performance in sports.

The Focused Sports Kid program is actually two programs: one for sports parents/coaches that provides mental game tips especially designed for parents and coaches, and for young athletes, ages 8 to 12, that will walk them through 7 simple lessons in mental focus in sports.

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