CoachingGoal SettingMessages for Kids

A couple months ago one of my golfer’s sent me her goals in a text message, and I responded.

“I want you to burn those.”

I knew my response was harsh, but I had reached a breaking point.


No one is sitting around at the beginning of the season saying

“our goal is to finish last place in the conference”
“we want to have the worst shooting percentage in the country”
“we want to have a mediocre season”

fire imageYou never hear this!

I think goals are like wishes.

The beauty of sports is winning and losing is defined for us, therefore we need to spend ZERO time on it.

I believe 100% of our energy should be on the process, controllables, and more specifically in this case, our commitments.

So, I told my golfer, “Burn your wish list. I want to see your commitment list. I want to know what you are committed to sacrificing and doing with your 24 hours a day to close the gap between where you are at, and where you want to be.”

Remember, one of the greatest coaches ever, John Wooden, won 10 National Championships, and he NEVER talked about winning. He focused on the process. He started with the basics. The first day of practice he showed the freshmen how they should put on their socks, and tie their shoes. It worked out pretty well for him both in terms of results, and more importantly in his relationships with his players long into their lives.

Three weeks later my golfer blew out the field and won the tournament with the person in second finishing 5 strokes behind her. The next tournament she didn’t play as well, but she is starting to understand you cannot control goals, but you can control your commitments, and paradoxically by letting go of the results you can actually play better.

I know that for many of you removing goals is like taking away your training wheels or your ‘blanky’, but it’s long over due. At some point your training wheels are more of a hindrance than a help. You can’t make sharp turns around the bend, you can’t hit the brakes and power-slide, and you cannot fly off of jumps! No one has ever competed in the X-Games with training wheels. Though training wheels may give you balance and security, they strip you of the opportunity to experience the full potential of riding a bike.

Here is what I’ve found. Consistently giving your very best, every single day, is a much higher standard than arbitrary goals.

Some coaches have said, “BUT some of my players need an outcome goal to chase after!” If that is how you feel, I would encourage you to revisit your mission in coaching. Most coaches tell me their mission is something along the lines of “training and equipping their athletes for life.” If that is the case, then it is our job—I would go as far as to say it’s our responsibility—to do what we believe is best long-term for our athletes.

Kids want to have dessert before dinner. It is a parents’ responsibility, however, to make sure that doesn’t happen. Because I think we all can agree that if we equipped our kids with this type of dietary strategy, there would be some detrimental long-term effects.

So, what is a more beneficial strategy? We develop a compelling vision for our life of who we want to become as a person and a player that is 100% controllable and not results based. We then create a commitment list of what we are willing to sacrifice and do with our 86,400 seconds per day to close the gap between where we are at, and where we want to be.

This isn’t semantics.

When we were young, we didn’t know the difference between lust and love. The older we get, we start to realize these two words are worlds apart.

When we were young, we didn’t know the difference between happiness and fulfillment. The older we get, the more we start to realize the two words are leap years apart.

The difference between being goal driven and mission/vision driven is MASSIVE! I think goal driven coaches are much more likely to be transactional and mission/vision driven coaches are much more likely to be transformational.

I encourage you.

Take off the training wheels.

Put your blanky in storage.

You can’t control the results anyway.

Fall in love with the process.

Focus on your commitments.

Focus on giving your very best, treating people really well, having a great attitude, and unconditional gratitude, REGARDLESS of your circumstances. It’s a much higher standard, and much like bicycles with no training wheels, it’s not for the faint of heart.

We can enjoy the security and predictability goals provide, but I would argue you can never achieve your fullest potential with them.

Well, what do you think? Please leave your thoughts, comments and questions below.

[testimonial3 author=”” + pic=””]This thought provoking  blog post was written by our friend Joshua Medcalf, Founder of Train to be Clutch. Joshua is the Mental Training Coach for renowned programs such as UCLA Women’s Basketball and University of Oregon Women’s Golf, as well as numerous elite high school, collegiate and professional athletes. He is the creator of the first mental training apps in the world for basketball, soccer and golf. You can follow his work on Twitter at @joshuamedcalf, and check out some of his free mental training videos and mp3s at





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