As a sport performance consultant, I can’t tell you how many athletes I have spoken to who have fallen short of their goals time after time. Some athletes have missed the mark 5-6 consecutive times.
Why? Why do some athletes fail to achieve their seasonal objectives?
The reason some athletes and many people outside of sport miss the mark is because they are overly focused on the obstacles and not the objective.
Let me use an example to explain… I was working with a professional lacrosse team and wondered why some players had a knack for scoring while other players with similar opportunities always seemed to miss.
I decided to ask the players one simple question to see if I could determine a difference in mindset. “When you are shooting the ball, what are you focused on?”
Most of the scorers said they looked for the “empty spaces.” In other words, the scorers were looking for the net. Alternately, the players who had difficulty scoring said they were looking for where the goalie was positioned.
It may sound like there is no big difference. Both players were still trying to score.
This was by no means a scientific experiment. And there are a host of factors that contribute to scoring. The scorers probably also took in the information of the positioning of the goalie, but their primary focus was on the goal, while the other players were primarily focused on the obstacle (the goalie).
I repeated this exercise with a women’s collegiate field hockey team and a collegiate men’s soccer team and found similar results. In general, scorers looked for the goal and non-scorers looked for the obstacle.
Again, these results are interesting but in no way fall under the realm of scientific study.
In many ways, this is true of goal achievement. Those who fall short of accomplishing their objective often look at all the potential obstacles and build a case against themselves…
“There is no way I will win this race. I’m slow and am just not as talented as the other runners. I have never won a race anyway, no matter how much I trained. I missed training due to being sick. My muscles are sore. I injured my ankle last year and I’m not sure if it’s 100 percent healed.”
The focal points should be: “What’s the objective?” “What am I shooting for?”
Of course, you need to know the potential obstacles so you can create a contingency plan, but those obstacles should not be the primary focal point.
By knowing the target, you can create a plan that moves you in the direction of the goal.
For example, if your goal is to run a 10K in under 60 minutes, you can create a plan that moves you towards your goal: run 30 miles/ week, cross-train on Sundays, add a flexibility program, adjust diet for more energy, find a training partner, include imagery sessions.
To hit the mark, you need to shoot for the target. If you focus on the obstacle, sure enough, you will probably hit that mark too.
Keep your eyes on the prize… SHOOT TOWARDS THE GOAL!