Article written by:

Stephen Rendall
Ba.Ex.Sci, Ba.Psych
Grad.Dip.Psych, M.App.Psych(Sport), Assoc MAPS

Most people evaluate the success of a performance on whether the individual or team wins or loses. A win is often seen as a successful performance and a loss is viewed as an unsuccessful performance.

A team or individual can perform very well and still lose and alternatively a team or individual can perform poorly and still win. One way of evaluating performance that is not based on winning or losing is by developing performance goals.

There are three types of goals that are used in sport settings: outcome, performance and process goals.

Outcome goals focus on the end result of a competition and are mainly concerned with winning or losing. Winning and losing partly depend on the performance of the opponent therefore an athlete is not in total control of reaching his or her outcome goal.

Performance goals are the individuals’ personal performing goals that are separate from the team’s goals. An athlete is in control of achieving performance goals because the performance of other players does not affect whether the goal is achieved. For example: a performance goal for a footballer may be to make 3 tackles per quarter.

Process goals are concerned with how an individual performs a certain skill and tend to be used during training. Performance and process goals are most important because they are under the athletes’ control.

Setting match day performance goals
Setting match day performance goals has a number of benefits such as increased focus, enhanced motivation and a personal measure of your performance. Important considerations when setting match day goals:

  • Only set one or two goals for each match any more than this and you may become confused and spend too much time analysing your performance.
  • Set goals that are specific such as: three tackles per quarter or four handballs per quarter.
  • Write your goals down somewhere to avoid confusion.
  • Think about how you intend to achieve the goals you have set e.g. get to more contests in order to make more tackles.
  • Make sure your goals are realistic. There is no point in setting the goal of kicking five goals in a game if you are going to be playing in the back pocket for most of the game.
  • Try and choose goals that can be measured.
  • Evaluate your goals after the match and constantly re-evaluate your goals for the following game particularly if you have achieved your goals easily.

Any type of goal should be set so it is slightly out of your grasp but not so far out of your grasp that you can never reach them. Goals should be fluid and constantly evaluated and therefore evolving based on your performance and situation during the season. Remember failing to plan is planning to fail.