The art of setting goals: Part 1

Like most athletes, golfers know that goal setting is important. What they often don't know is what type of goals they should set and why they should set them.

This three-part series on goal setting will help clarify the issue and improve your knowledge greatly.

If you learn the information in the series, you will be well on your way to being skilled in the art of goal setting. Armed with this goal-setting knowledge, all you have to do then is put it use.

The first type of goal we are going to cover in this three-part series is called an outcome goal.

An outcome goal is a goal you set against an opponent. Therefore, if you are golfing in a match against a single opponent, the outcome goal is always the same: Win the match. But sometimes, as in stroke play, golf is played against a field. In this case, a golfer may set a goal to finish in a certain place. This is also an outcome goal because the goal is set for a competitive outcome against opponents.Thus, outcome goals often look like this: Win the match or finish in the top three.

The major benefit of an outcome goal is that it is motivating.

The idea of winning is exciting. Thoughts of winning fill you with positive energy. You can then use that energy to prepare with enthusiasm and great effort.

One of our favorite uses of win goals is to use some imagery of winning to create excitement and then use those feelings of excitement to go out and have a great, effortful practice session.

Uutcome goals also help you focus on the "to do" thought of playing to win rather than playing not to lose.

The mindset of playing to win brings attention to what to do rather than what not to do. This is an essential mindset for playing like a champion. Playing to win should be emphasized in practice as well as competitions to stir some of the strong emotions associated with competition, and competitive practice situations in which golfers compete to win challenges against opponents or teammates should be part of the regular practice routine.

Setting outcome and win goals is essential to competing at one's best, but other types of goals are also necessary to bring about improvement and excellence. The next goal tip will focus on another type of goal: Performance goals.

Jared M. Wood, Ph.D.

Sport Psychology Consultant

Champion Mindset Group