Setting goals in gymnastics is a vital part of achieving success!
This blog contains a FREE printable
In this blog I give you tips for the types of goals you should set, how to set them, and what you can do to stay committed to those goals throughout the year.
Like I said in my previous blog, Casting a Vision For Your Gymnastics Journey, a vision provides a roadmap to get to your goals. But without markers along the way that tell you you're headed in the right direction, you don't know if you're on course.
Your goals, then, are important road markers in your journey. Your goals help keep you on track and give you feedback so you can course-correct along the way. They are like your GPS!
In addition, it's important that you aren't letting your gymnastics journey unfold by default. You want to be an active participant in your journey.
One way you do that is by setting new goals each year
Be sure to download this week's free gymnastics goal setting printable now so you can use it to do your goal setting for 2022.
Unfortunately I often see gymnasts who set big goals (like the ones they put on their vision boards such as making it to the Olympics) but forget to set the littler ones to help them get to those big goals.
In general you should have three different time frames when working with your goals.
Below is an example of these types of time-frame goals over the course of 2022. For longer term goals, say 5 years away, you would continue to set yearly goals that reflect where you want to be each year until you hit your big goal.
Short-term goals - These are the goals that you want to happen in the next week to one month. These are things that you're going to work on in practice and track along the way. Things like doing extra repetitions, sticking a certain amount of skills, and doing your imagery daily all fall under this type of goal.
Medium-term goals - These are the goals that you want to happen over the next few months. I like breaking my year down into quarters (every 3 months). This is helpful because 90 days is enough time to set a medium size goal, make progress, and then track it. You can also set bigger 6 month goals too. These are goals like learning a new skill or improving your strength.
Long-term goals - These are the goals that you want to happen in the next year. This could be a goal such as moving up a level, getting all your Level 9 skills for next season, or making it onto your high school gymnastics team.
Goals can also be classified in terms of their purpose.
The three most common goals are outcome goals, performance goals, and process goals. All three are important in your goal achieving journey.
Outcome goals - These refer to the end result. It could be making it onto the Olympic team, or getting first at State. These often correspond with your long-term goals.
While outcome goals help you have a big picture goal, the results aren't within your control. You might do everything in your power to finish in the top 3 at Olympic Trials but the Olympic Committee decides not to pick you for the team. Or you might work hard and be a favorite to win at State but then another gymnast who has worked harder or performs better, outscores you.
Once again, these goals are not within your control and thus should NOT be the only type of goals you set but they are an important part of your goal-setting journey.
Performance goals - these goals refer to a specific standard like hitting a certain score at a meet. Like outcome goals, they aren't 100% within your control, however you do have more control over performance goals than outcome goals.
You might do your best routine ever but have tough judges who score low that day. So while you did your part, getting the score you want might not be in the cards for you that day.
In the grand scheme of things, performance goals give you something to shoot for along the way. But again, these types of goals shouldn't be the only ones you use.
Process goals - these goals refer to the things you do on a day-to-day basis in the gym. Process goals are the building blocks for reaching those higher level goals.
Process goals are completely within your control and refer to certain techniques you decide to work on. For example, deciding to practice your imagery 5 days per week is a process goal. Doing 5 minutes of extra conditioning each practice is a process goal. Deciding to do 4 full beam routines at least once per week is also a process goal.
One of the best ways I've found for setting goals is to start from your big goal or dream and reverse-engineer from there.
Let's say your vision is to make it to college gymnastics. If you have 5 years until you would need to be recruited, then you can think back to how each year needs to progress.
For example, the year before wanting to be seen by recruiters you might want to be a Level 10 gymnast. From there you can work backwards and see which level you need to be each year leading up to that.
Of course, this isn't fool proof and this isn't the only way to make it to college gymnastics. You could skip more than 1 level per season or make it onto the team as a specialist for just the one event where you have Level 10 skills.
Regardless, it's good to look at your big picture goals and then work backwards, planning out a rough sketch of what you think needs to happen.
If your goal is to make it to college gymnastics, what are some things that you might need to do over the next few years to get there? If you want to become an elite gymnast, what training camps and competitions do you need to aim to qualify for? If you want to make it onto your high school gymnastics team, what are some skills you need to learn in order to be considered?
What is one big Outcome Goal you have for 2022?
Let's start this process together. Think of one big outcome goal you have for the year 2022. Remember these are things like making it up to the next level or making it onto a certain team (optionals, high school, elite, etc).
Now that you've thought about your big outcome goal, I want you to think about whether it is a S.M.A.R.T. goal.
SMART stands for:
Specific - Is your outcome goal something very specific? For example, saying you want to get better at gymnastics is too general but saying you want to make it to level 8 is a specific goal.
Measurable - Is your outcome goal something you can measure? If you say you want to get stronger, how do you measure that? You would need to say something like "I want to be able to do 20 press handstands in a row" which you can measure. When it comes to moving up a level, if you make it to that level and learn the skills necessary then that is measurable.
Achievable - Is your outcome goal realistic for you? You want to stretch yourself outside of your comfort zone but you still want the goal to be achievable. If you've never been an optional gymnast before and you want to make it to a Level 10 team next year, then that is not realistic for you. Again, it's important that your outcome goal for the year isn't completely outside of your reach.
Relevant - Does your outcome goal still matter to you? Sometimes we set goals that other people tell us to set but that don't mean much to us. Make sure the goal you are striving for means something to you and is still important to you.
Time-sensitive - Is there a timeline associated with your outcome goal? If you are keeping this within the 2022 time frame then you have a time-sensitive goal. But if you just want to get to the Olympics some day, that isn't putting a timeline on it. You might make it to the Olympics 20 years from now, but if your goal is to make it to the 2024 Olympics then you haven't met your goal.
Now that you have your outcome goal in mind and it's SMART, what are some skills you need to learn in order to achieve your outcome goal?
On page 5 of last week's Free PDF, you can write down a few skill goals that you need for each event. Think about what skills will help you get there.
You might even use this PDF (page 6) to brainstorm so competition goals you have for 2022, even those are more short-term goals if you're in the middle of your season already.
In addition, you should also brainstorm what help you need from those around you like your coaches, parents, and teammates (page 7 of last week's Free PDF).
Achieving your goals is a team effort and you want to be sure you're leaning on your support system to help you.
In addition to skill goals, think about what other traits or characteristics you might need to reach your outcome goal. Do you need to get stronger, more flexible, or work on your dance elements? Those should be included too.
Now that you have your skill goals, think about some things you can do on a weekly basis to help you get there. These are your process goals.
If you need to learn certain skills, how many repetitions of each skill do you need to practice every week? Or maybe you're not close to getting your skill yet but you can do drills to help get you there.
Really break this down into a weekly goal setting chart. This is one of the best ways to stay focused as well as motivated to continue working towards your goals.
This is one of the worksheets in this week's free PDF.
Finally, how are you going to measure your progress along the way?
This is where your performance goals come into play. You can set a goal for 3 months to have achieved one or two of those skills. You can set a goal to have increased your strength or flexibility by a certain amount and test yourself in 3-6 months to see if you have achieved that goal.
These performance goals will help you know if you're staying on track. If you're not on track, this is where a vital piece of the puzzle come in...
You need to course-correct.
Just like your GPS will tell you to make a u-turn if you're going the wrong way, so will your goals if you're using them effectively.
If you haven't met a skill goal in the 6 month deadline that you set for yourself, ask yourself why. Is it because it was an unrealistic goal to begin with? Did you not work hard enough in your practices to achieve your skill goal? Did your mental outlook get in the way? Did any roadblocks come in your way (injury, gym shutdown, new coach)?
It's important that you get curious and figure out the reason why you didn't reach a goal.
And equally important is setting new goals if these goals aren't working. It's OK to set different goals even if you didn't achieve those other ones!
I know that was a lot of information about setting goals! The bottom line is that you want to set one to two big goals for this year and then break that down into smaller process goals that you can work on each week in practice. Use your performance goals to measure how close you are coming to achieving your goals. Finally, modify your goals if they aren't working for you or if your situation has changed.
Good luck setting and achieving goals in 2022. I can't wait to hear all about your successes one year from now!
If you or your gymnast needs support, in addition to the resources below I also offer one-on-one coaching sessions via Zoom.
- Resources: Get gymnastics downloads to help your gymnast work on her mental skills in gymnastics
- Mental Health Training for Gymnasts: Help your gymnast learn about her brain and the fight-flight-or-freeze response.
- Free Facebook Group for Moms of Gymnasts: Join this group to chat with other gymnastics moms and get tips for how to help your gymnast navigate through the mental ups and downs of gymnastics