Mental Training? Part 1 : Goal Setting

As an athlete, and yes you are an athlete if you are exercising…. you want to train hard, practice hard, and be the best you can be, right???

Blog1What about the mental side of the game, it’s a huge part that a lot of us overlook. Mental training encompasses all aspects of sport, goal setting, imagery, confidence, self talk, and your ability to concentrate. So I ask you, how much of the game is mental for you? …..30%….40%…..50% maybe even more depending on how you feel.

Now may I ask, how much of your time do you spend practicing your mental skills? Is it as high as 30%….40%…..50% of your training time. If so you are way ahead of the pack and I congratulate you, and the following training manual will be a great addition to your mental training. If you new to the idea of mental training…. well then the following training manual will be a the tool you are looking for. Mental training is a vital part of creating a competitive advantage, and we all know we want one of those!

Now before getting into the meat and potatoes of this mental training manual lets outline some basics. Mental training should last 15-30 minutes at the beginning or end of physical activity, 3 to 5 days a week. If you have spare time throughout the day you can throw in mental training where you see fit, however it is important to stay consistent, so pick times that will work every week. Write them down in a day timer.

The following manual will have 5 strategic ways for you to build your superhuman mental strength. For best results we would like you to focus on ONLY 1 at a time for minimum of 3 weeks, there is no maximum time…. so take however long you feel is needed to master the skill. Mental training never goes away, so don’t forget to always try and take the next step in mastering your craft.


Goal setting…. come on….. really, everyone knows that goal setting is important… You are very right, everyone does know goal setting is extremely important, however successful goal setting is not just setting goals, it’s also executing them, learning from them, creating conclusions and building new bigger better goals. Tom Brady was never the biggest, most athletic, or even fastest guy on the field, but he aspires to better himself everyday by goal setting!

A very smart man by the name of Locke studied the benefits of goal setting in 1981. He found, “ The beneficial effects of goal setting on task performance is one of the most robust and replicable findings in the psychological literature. 90% show positive or partially positive effects.”
90% who can argue with those kinds of numbers! Now you might be saying to yourself, well that study is super old, how do we know it works today? Well…. Burton and Weiss in 2008 reviewed 88 studies and found 80% showed moderate to strong positive effects from goal setting. BOO-YAHH

Locke went on to develop a theory called the Mechanistic Theory, with a man by the name of Latham in 2002. They contend that goals influence performance 4 ways.

1) Goals direct your attention and action to important tasks
2) Goals help mobilize effort.
3) Goals increase immediate effort as well as prolong effort or increase persistence
4) As an athlete you have the ability to learn new strategies by setting goals

These 4 very positive attributes of goal setting will undoubtedly help you become an all star athlete! Now lets move onto the meat and potatoes of goal setting.


1) Set specific, measurable goals based on a timeline. The more specific you can become the more effective a goal will be.

– For example, if you are a running back for football, your goal is to run the 40 yard dash in 5 seconds, 4 weeks from now.

2) Set moderately difficult but realistic goals – the more difficult the goal the better the performance to a certain point.

– If you are a gym enthusiast perhaps a moderate goal is to increase your favorite lift by 10% over the next 2 months. An unrealistic goal is to double your best lift in 2 weeks.

3) Set short range as well as long range goals – short term goals are extremely important during complex tasks. Think of a stair case, you need to take small steps and before you know it you are at the top looking down at 50 stairs.

– As an athlete, the long term goal could be to run the 40 yard dash in 5 seconds in 8 weeks time, the short term goal could be a few things, running with your knees high, explode off every step, practice the 40 yard dash at least 10 times a day.

4) Set Process, Performance, and Outcome goals, however ensure that you are not focused only on the outcome goals of winning. It is the process goals and performance goals that lead to the outcome goals, its the only way! Having a multiple goal strategy will enhance your performance, or my name isn’t Coach Chuck!

– Lets say you are a defensive lineman, the process is focusing on form, hand over the opponents pushing arm and drive with legs, performance goal, to get through the scrimmage line, outcome goal, to sack the quarterback and win the game. See how all goals are needed to reach the end, you can’t just focus on the outcome goal you need the process and performance goals to get there.

5) Set goals for practice and competition

– Goal setting isn’t just for practice, a common mistake made by many. For example practice goals – tell 5 team mates or gym buddies they did a great job. Game goals, to always be looking where the ball is going.

6) Set positive goals, never negative ones. This should be a no brainer but worthwhile to mention.

– Goals should enhance your ability and the ability of those around you, a goal should never hurt you or anyone else on the team.

7) Records goals once they have been identified – Provide goal evaluation

– It is always important to keep a note pad no matter what position you are, write down when you achieve a goal, how you feel about achieving the goal, and what you could do in the future to ensure you keep practicing this goal. Ideally you can do this after practice or a game.

8) Provide support for goals – from a coach, friends, and family. This is one of the best ways to hold yourself accountable as well as get a helping hand along the way.

– Having a great support group and communicating your goals confirms with others what you want to achieve. Be sure to tell them what exactly you are looking for, tell a Coach you would like to sit down with him once a week and talk about the progress you are making. Friends and family can support you through positive encouragement and reminders to focus on your goals.

9) Last but not least, group goals, sit down with the team, or a group of friends. This is yet another way to develop a way to help each other push to the next level. You are a team, the better you all are the better the team will perform.

In summary you can see why I mentioned earlier that a minimum of 3 weeks is necessary for just a single goal. There is a lot involved in becoming a goal setting master. A great way that has helped me learn the process was making a list of the 9 steps short form, print it and post it in a place I saw everyday. Maybe your locker, or bedroom wall would be a great place for you. Try your best to read it over everyday and think about the list in addition to your goal setting action plan before and after practice.

Take aways:

1) Set specific, measurable goals based on a timeline
2) Set moderately difficult but realistic goals
3) Set short range as well as long range goals
4) Set Process, Performance, and Outcome goals
5) Set goals for practice and competition
6) Set positive goals, never negative ones
7) Records goals once they have been identified
8) Provide support for goals
9) Group goals (if applicable)

Check out Part 2 of this article : Mental Training? Part 2 : Imagery

About the Author

Coach Chuck Dertinger is an accomplished fitness and nutrition expert, holding a Masters Degree in Science with a concentration in Exercise Physiology. Chuck lives, breaths, and loves to promote healthy lifestyle choices. He went from skinny to brawny gaining over 50-lbs of muscle in a couple of years through the use of sound training and nutrition tactics. Feel free to add him on Facebook and ask any questions with relation to nutrition or exercise.



One Response for Mental Training? Part 1 : Goal Setting

  1. Richard


    June 1, 2013 6:51 am

    Great article , love your products, thanks again 🙂