If you set a goal you’re positive you can achieve, then you’re not dreaming big enough.

— Steve Mesler, Olympic gold medalist in bobsled


Tight on time? Stick with the 3 Key Takeaways and The Basics. These will provide your athletes with a solid foundation for understanding goal-setting.

Have more time? Share the TrueSport Talk and discuss how an Olympic athlete can relate to this lesson.

Extra time? Continue on through to Tips & Applications for more valuable information to share with your group.

Looking for more? Explore the Downloads & Additional Resources, which offer additional conversation starters and fun physical activities to support each lesson.

3 Key Takeaways

The Basics

What are goals?

Goals are designed to help you get to where you want to go.

An aim or desired result; the object of a person’s ambition or effort; the destination of a journey.

They are the road map to your dreams, helping you achieve feats that otherwise might feel impossible or overwhelming.

Goals can be focused on athletics, academics, health, personal development, careers, or anything else that is important to you.

Research shows that when you achieve goals that are important to you, your feelings of well-being increase.

TrueSport Talk

Watch this TrueSport talk with Jimmy Moody or read the following aloud

Jimmy Moody and his U.S. Olympic Fencing National Teammates set a long-term goal of becoming the first American team to ever earn a #1 world ranking. In order to do this, the team had to focus on a series of short-term goals to ensure they were making progress toward their long-term one. The team members collectively wrote down these goals and then agreed how they would be implemented. They trusted that these short-term goals, if regularly evaluated and changed if necessary, would help them meet their goal of a #1 world ranking.

Jimmy’s personal long-term goal was to earn a spot at the Olympic Games. In order to try and reach this goal, he established short-term goals that included making the U.S. World and National Teams, both of which helped him get close to achieving his Olympic dream. To get to that point, he also set short-term goals for his daily workouts that kept him productive and focused every day.

TrueSport Talk Questions

1. What was the main point you took away from the lesson?

2. How have you used the goal-setting process, like Jimmy does, in your own life?

3. How can you set some goals this week that will enhance

your sport experience or help you plan for the future?

Tips & Applications

Additional Guidelines for Goal-Setting

When you set up any goal, whether it’s to make a soccer team or improve a grade in math, it should be SMART:

Example 1:

I want to improve my overall math score from an 82 to a 92 (measureable and specific) by the end of the year (timely). I know I can do this because math is my favorite subject and I feel comfortable asking questions and staying for after-school tutoring when I need to (achievable and reasonable).

Example 2:

I want to become faster at running the mile by the end of the year (timely and measurable). I want to take my mile time of 9 minutes down to 8 1/2 minutes (specific and reasonable). I know I can do this because I plan to run every day and ask my coach for extra help if I need it (achievable)!

Goal Timelines

Daily Goal Examples:

Practice the same routine before a tennis serve (such as bouncing the ball twice); dribble the basketball with your non-dominant hand during skills practice; run as fast as possible during sprints at the end of practice.

Short-Term Goal Examples:

Be the most productive offensive player on the team; have no double faults during a tennis tournament; be able to dribble easily with both hands by the end of the season.

Long-Term Goal Examples:

Make a traveling team or become a starter next year.

Goal Types


Arrive at practice with enough time to put on equipment and warm up for five minutes before coaching starts; breathe every third stroke (instead of every second) in freestyle; shoot 10 free throws at the end of every practice.I want to become faster at running the mile by the end of the year (timely and measurable). I want to take my mile time of 9 minutes down to 8 1/2 minutes (specific and reasonable). I know I can do this because I plan to run every day and ask my coach for extra help if I need it (achievable)!


Make 95% of free throws in competition; take five seconds off 100-meter freestyle time; run a mile in under 6 minutes.


Win a game, a tournament, a championship.

Downloads & Additional Resources:

Goal-Setting: Lesson Companion (PDF)
Printable version of the online lesson: Away from the computer or internet access? Print out and use this handout that’s identical to the online lesson.

Goal-Setting: Chalk Talk (PDF)
10 minute activity: Practice setting goals with your athletes and learn why it’s important to do so.

Goal-Setting: Activities (PDF)
Two, 20 minute activities: Two different activities for two different age groups will teach for the group to work together to set and achieve their goals.

Goal-Setting: Worksheet (PDF)
15-minute activity: A goalsetting worksheet that athletes can complete in class, at practice, or on their own time.

Goal-Setting: Ten Keys (PDF)
Handout: A step-by-step reminder on how to set(and achieve!) SMART goals. 

TrueSport Certificate (PDF) 
Handout: Celebrate your groups’ completion of the TrueSport GoalSetting lesson with this special certificate.

Goal-Setting: Parent Handout (PDF)
Handout: Learn the importance of goal-setting and how mapping a plan will help your athlete achieve their goals in sport and everyday life.

Goal-Setting: Athlete Handout (PDF)
Handout: Have your athletes learn the basics of goal-setting and how it can help achieve their best performance in sport, school, and everyday life.

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