Goal Setting for All Ages

Everyone should have a goal, no matter how old they are, or how small or silly that goal may seem. Personally, I plan on learning to whistle. I’m not referring to the whistle-while-you-work kind of sound, but the shrill, high whistle accomplished by putting your fingers in your mouth.

I’m talking about the kind of whistle that would silence a room, get a group of people to pay attention, and allow me to connect with my swimmers across the pool deck without shouting their names. On Twitter it would be a perfectly reasonable #SwimMomGoal.

Every child needs a goal, whether it is swim-related or not. Just make sure their goals are age appropriate and something they chose themselves—or it isn’t going to happen.

Remember that children don’t know what they don’t know. Read that again. Slowly. They are not born with the inherent ability to set goals. They need to be taught how-to pick one, create a plan for reaching it, and then be encouraged along the way.

When teaching your swimmers about goal setting, use the acronym SMART. It stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time sensitive.

Specific – The more clearly-defined the goal, the better. Your swimmers may need suggestions because “swim fast” is just too vague.

Measurable –  This is easier than you think. Pursuing a specific time cut is a great way to measure progress towards a goal because swimmers can see incremental improvements from one meet to the next. And if they get their time, they met their goal!

Attainable –A 10 and under swimmer will not be able to get a Speedo sectional cut, no matter how hard they train. Don’t set your children up for failure.

Realistic – The root of the word is “real.” Don’t lose sight of it. But that doesn’t mean your swimmer shouldn’t stretch themselves.

Time – Attach a timeframe to the goal. It should have an end, a time in which it will be accomplished. This helps motivate swimmers to work diligently and stay on-track.

In our house, everyone sets a swim goal at the start of the season. They range from swimming a stroke legally, to getting a qualifying cut for a high-level meet, and everything in between.

The goals get posted on the bathroom mirror, which guarantees they are read frequently, and whether my swimmers realize it or not, this is a great way to start and end each day…with purpose.

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