Setting golf goals: Part 2

Published On: Jun 10 2014 08:29:40 AM EDT
Updated On: Jun 10 2014 11:57:21 AM EDT

In the last post, we covered outcome goals, also known as win goals.

Win goals help athletes get motivated to put forth an effortful practice or game performance. Further, win goals help keep a focus on what to do in order to win a game, but focusing on winning and knowing how to win are two different things.

Often, we need to know more about the type of performance that leads to a winning score, and we need to know whether we are improving performance over time. In other words, regardless of whether we are winning, we need to know if all of our efforts are resulting in improved performance. With that in mind, we will cover the next goal type: Performance goals.

Whereas win goals are goals set against an opponent, performance goals are goals set against oneself, or to be more accurate, one's former self. Performance goals help measure progress against one's own past performance or against a standard, such as a personal best score or par.

Good performance goals should be closely aligned with the type of performance that tends to lead to winning scores. Many statistics are already aligned with important aspects of game, so personal statistics are a good place to start when creating performance goals. For example, fairways hit, greens in regulation, number of putts per hole/round, sand save percentage, and other statistics track aspects of performance that are critical to one's score.

Many golfers, both recreational and competitive, do not track these scores, and they have no way of knowing if their efforts are actually paying
off in improved skill. By tracking these stats, golfers can begin to understand the game improvement process, and they can connect what they are doing in practice to results on the course.
A simple way to track these stats is to create a scorecard for this purpose.

Simply grab an extra scorecard from the clubhouse and use the extra rows to track things like fairways hit, greens in regulation, and number of putts. We also recommend tracking a mental or emotion component for each hole, or even each shot, such as confidence or commitment to the chosen shot.

One often under-utilized way to set performance goals is strength and conditioning training. Without proper goals and a plan, motivation will be lower than it could be, and training is not going to be optimized. Working with a trainer or coach can help an athlete set effective training goals. This is especially important in off-season training.

A strong combination of win goals and performance goals can help golfers analyze performance and track progress within a season and across one or more years or seasons, but knowing one wants to win and knowing what statistics usually lead to winning are not enough.

Tracking wins and statistics is important, but neither inform a golfer how to play. In other words, golfers needs to know what to focus on from one moment to the next. In order to do that, golfers need a third type of goal.

The third type of goal is called a process goal, and it will be the focus of our next post.

-- Jared M. Wood, Ph.D.
Sport Psychology Consultant
Champion Mindset Group

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