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Advice Dec 30, 2014

LeBolt: How setting the wrong goals leads to failure

WendyLeBolt-HeaderLots of people make new year’s resolutions. They look at where they have failed, identify what needs work and come January 1, they’re gonna get to it. Something about the clean slate of a new year brings hope that this year will be different.

Rarely is this successful. Resolutions just aren’t motivating. The key to success isn’t the goal-setting, it’s the day-to-day process that moves us toward our goals.

+READ: LeBolt: Are national team players born or made? 

If the coach’s goal is to win the league championship, his process might be to focus on what the team does in practice each day.

If the SoccerWire writer’s goal is to write soccer articles which get the most views, then she might focus on reading and writing daily about soccer subjects that people find interesting.

If, hypothetically, my goal at Fit2Finish is to build a multi-million-dollar business, then I had darned well better focus on daily marketing and sales of my programs, books and web information. (www.Fit2Finish.com)

If your soccer athlete’s goal is to make the.U.S. National Team, what should he/she focus on? And how is a parent to help?

First, let’s shelve the goal. While the goal of playing for the national team is valiant and, for a few select players may be achievable (if you’re one of them, then feel free to stop reading now), the rest of us want to honor our kid’s dream and support their efforts, but setting that as a goal is doing us no good. Here’s why:

 A too-big goal makes us unhappy.

When we’re 10 years old and “making the national team” is our goal, and we look around and see how far we are from that goal and how many people are better than we are, we give up. Who can sustain exhausting training with that kind of disappointment?

Solution: focus on improving a selected soccer skill/effort daily which moves us toward our goal. 

Timothy-Chandler,-Julian-Green-in-USMNT-training

A too-big goal distracts us from our current efforts.

When we see that we’ve got a long way to go, we get in a hurry to achieve results. But instead of motivating, this actually impedes us. We have no patience for set backs, failures, or learning moments. A couple of hurdles have us wondering if we’re cut out for the national team after all. Might as well give up and play lacrosse.

Solution: focus on weekly improvement and see ups and downs as a regular part of our progress

A too-big goal is out of our control.

So many things can happen on our way to the national team. We get hurt, lose interest, are sick for tryouts, hate our coach, like another sport more, can’t find time for both soccer and homework, don’t have a ride to practice…the list is endless. So many factors in our rise to soccer stardom are out of our control. All we can really control are the decisions we make today and how we let it impact what we do tomorrow.

Solution: insist on regular, honest assessments of our skills and ability and take advice from trusted coaches about next steps.

+READ: Coaching to Win: Here’s how to do it at practice, even all winter long

If you really want to help your child achieve his or her dreams, this is the key: nix “The Big Goal” and help them sketch out the process that moves them toward an intermediate one. Sustained practice moves us toward success. Whether it’s cutting calories to reduce weight, regular workouts to improve strength or daily minutes getting accurate touches on the ball, the key to success is sustained effort.

The U.S. U-17 Women celebrate during the 2013 CONCACAF U-17 women's championship. Photo property of CONCACAF.comNo one can do that for us. As parents we may offer temporary motivation by dangling a reward. As coaches we may inspire temporary enthusiasm with a halftime pep talk.

But what an athlete really needs to reach his dreams is true resolve. That comes from inside and she/he must discover it, daily.

We can’t do it for ‘em. The best we can do is play the game with them and let them see the fun we’re having. That oughta do a little something for our waistlines and workouts. Here’s to a successful new year for us all!

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