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Author: Richard Symister

Practical Goal Setting for Athletic Performance Rule # 3: Train S.M.A.R.T.

S.M.A.R.T. Goal Setting for Dummies

Be SMART planning your training goals. Put the time in now so you're not wasting it later.
Be SMART planning your training goals. Put the time in now so you’re not wasting it later.

S.M.A.R.T. goal setting has been around for as long as I’ve been a physical therapist. I actually use a form of S.M.A.R.T. goal setting in my clinical practice with my multi-sport clients, as well as in my own progressive, fitness training. What are S.M.A.R.T. goals and why should you use them?
The simple fact is that for any goal to be achieved, it must be designed to be S.M.A.R.T., whether in sport or in life in general. There are many variations on what S.M.A.R.T. stands for, but the essence is this:
Set Specific Goals
Your athletic goals must be clear and well defined. You must understand what you wish to achieve. Vague or generalized goals are not achievable because they don’t provide sufficient direction. Remember, you need goals to show you the way.
Set Measurable Goals
Include precise amounts, dates, etc. in your fitness goals so you can measure your degree of success. Without a way to measure your success you miss out on the celebration that comes with knowing you actually achieved something.
Set Attainable Goals
Make sure that it’s possible to achieve the athletic goals you set. If you set a goal that you have no hope of achieving, you will only demoralise yourself and erode your confidence. However, resist the urge to set goals that are too easy. By setting realistic yet challenging goals you hit the balance you need. These are the types of goals that require you to “raise the bar” and they bring the greatest personal satisfaction.
Set Relevant Goals
Athletic should be relevant to the direction you want your life and career to take. By keeping goals aligned with this, you’ll develop the focus you need to get ahead and do what you want.
Set Time
Your goals must have a deadline. This again, is so that you know when to celebrate your success. When you are working on a deadline, your sense of urgency increases and achievement will come that much quicker.— Adapted from Olympic.Org
Take a look at this example of how I took one of my general fitness goals and made it S.M.A.R.T and stuck to it.This is one of original goals, set in January 2015: Be able to squat without left knee pain.
And here’s how I made it a S.M.A.R.T. goal:  Perform 10 full-range, left legged pistol squats, pain-free, by August 30th, 2015.
Get the idea? The more precise and practical you are with your expectations and setting new heights, the faster you will achieve athletic and fitness satisfaction. Let the dummies waste their time. Now, go get S.M.A.R.T.!
Next Blog: The Periodization Table — Your Calendar to Athletic Success.