Shepshed Swimming Club

Goal Setting


Goal setting is a motivational technique used by many athletes to help them perform to their potential and put in the required effort to succeed in their task. Goals can range from something as simple as swimming a length of butterfly without getting disqualified to winning a medal at the Olympics. A goal is an end result or specific aim that one pursues and expects to achieve following a carefully designed at set course of action. (John Hogg)

They can have the following purposes:

  • They direct specific attention and action
  • They regulate the amount of effort someone is willing to put into a task
  • The can influence longer and more prolonged effort until the goal is reached


1. Outcome Goals

Outcome goals are so called because the involve setting targets of achievement (or outcome) in competition, such as “I will come first in the national championships.”

2.Performance Goals

Performance goals are slightly more specific than outcome goals. These involve setting goals for how well you actually performed in an event or training compared with previous performances. Examples include PB’s, improvement in technique, improvement on starts and turns, or even something as simple as completing a training session.

  • To make the most out of your goals, it is important to use the following acronym when setting them: -Specific. Specific to you-Measurable. i.e. times, technique-Attainable. You should be able or at least have a realistic chance of reaching you goal-Recorded. You should write them down so they can be referred back to-Time.
  • They have to have a time scale (i.e. short, medium, and long term goals)


There are different types of goals you can set, here are a few examples:

  • Technical Goals, i.e. improve my butterfly armsConditioning Goals, i.e improve my fitness/endurance ability
  • Performance Goals, i.e. to win my race at Leicester League
  • Preparation Goals, i.e. to always have at least 8 hours sleep before a gala
  • Tactical Goals, i.e. to sprint the last 25m of my race flat out These can be combined (and obviously would need more detail to fit into the SMART guidelines, but I don’t want to do all the work for you!) 


When setting goals we need to make long, short, and medium term goals. By starting with a long term, ultimate goal(s), you can then break this down to work out short and medium term goals to allow you to achieve this goal.

  • Short term goals should be set for no longer than 3months months away. They can also be shorter, i.e. per session/daily/weekly. Perhaps to always push off the wall streamlined in training. Improvement in technique is a good example of a short term goal.
  • Medium term goals should be set for about 3–9 months away. These are often associated more closely associated with your outcome (long term) goals, but performance goals are also common within them. Examples of these include improving your PB’s. Remember to make them measureable, and that can be to the 100 of a second!
  • Long term goals can be set for the years in advance. Examples include how you want to achieve in a competition in a years time or an overall target of how good you want to get and your highest ambitions. 


Setting goals will help keep you motivated whilst doing all your training giving you something to aim for to make it all worth while!

Remember to write your goals down, look back at them regularly (this includes evaluating them, and don’t be scared to change/alter them if need be) and follow the SMART acronym. Once you have decided on your goals, it is a good idea to discus them with your coach. I am more than happy to help people in deciding them and checking that they are suitable for you. Your coach will also be able to help you keep on top of them during training (i.e. watching out for that streamlining off of the walls) and celebrate with you when you achieve them!