Squad Goals! – The Importance of Setting Team Goals


So, the excitement from the festive season has settled, bank holidays are over until April and it is time to get back to work… and NETBALL!

Having crossed over into the new year, I’m sure most of us have set goals that we would like to achieve in our personal lives this year. Briefly mentioning the benefits of goal setting as a team in my last article, it only seemed right to give greater focus to it at the outset of the year. You and your team may have set goals at the beginning of the season but realistically, your ability is likely to have developed since then. Whether playing socially or as part of a club, this second half of the season is crucial in consolidating the skills you have learnt in the first half and with this should come the setting and/or reviewing of goals. This is because at this point, you have more of an understanding about your ability in relation to where you want to be, making it easier to adjust both short-term and long-term goals. Unsurprisingly, sport psychology has a goal setting theory which suggests that performance is directly influenced by the goals that are consciously set. Below are 4 of the main reasons why your team should set goals for the next half of the season as well as a guide to effective goal setting.

1. It Facilitates Group Cohesion

I think we can all agree that unity within a team sport is fundamental for success. Sports psychologist suggest that having common goals with your teammates increases a team’s unity as it encourages cooperation, improves team morale, and increases the team’s collective belief in their ability to successfully perform. Additionally, by coming up with common goals, each player is made accountable to their teammates creating a mutual sense of ownership of the team’s performance.  By creating a cohesive environment, improvement in communication and teamwork is evident, potentially resulting in better performance.

2. It Increases Motivation

Linked with cohesion, research has found that team goal setting increases motivation as individuals are likely to exert greater effort in an attempt to maintain group unity and avoid disappointing their teammates. Research also suggests that harder goals result in greater performance. In other words, by setting goals as a team, each person’s motivation increases in attempt to reach this common goal, resulting in greater performance potential.

3. It Gives Guidance and Direction

More obviously, goal setting identifies a point to work towards. By having common goals with teammates, each player is moving in the same direction and can use their individual strengths collectively to achieve that goal. After all, it is easier to win a tug of war when no one is pulling against you.

4. It Aids Planning

Leslie Knope

Finally, once direction has been established, goal setting guides actions planning whereby the steps that are necessary to achieve goals are thought about and actioned. If a part of a club that trains, this could be in the form of training sessions which focus on specific areas that will help achieve an overall goal. In a social league this could simply be turning up slightly earlier and discussing how the team can improve on previous performances.

A Guide to Effective Goal Setting

When setting goals, there are two key principles to take into account:a goal without a wish is just a plan

1. Set a combination of three types of goals:

  1. Outcome Goals – goals that you cannot directly control/the bigger picture, e.g. winning the league.
  2. Performance Goals – goals that you are trying to achieve that help you reach outcome goals, e.g. to win the league, you can aim to have the largest goal difference (which includes both attacking and defensive elements of the team).
  3. Process Goals – goals that you can directly control and represent the small steps taken to achieving performance and outcome goals, e.g. to win the league and have the greatest goal difference, you can show up to training/games on time and put in maximum effort.

2. Make your goals SMARTER:

smarter goals

Specific

Rather than saying you want to stay in your current league, state what position you want to come in.

Multiple and/or Measurable

Have more than one goal and make them easy to assess whether they are being achieved.

Agreed amongst the team

It is important that everyone in the team has a say and that potential goals are discussed together.

Realistic

While it is good to set ambitious goals, don’t make them unattainable.

Time-phased

Have short, medium and long term goals.

Exciting

Make your goals something that you are excited and motivated to work towards.

Recorded

Similar to measurable, keep a record of progress and include feedback as a tool to enhance development.

While this particular post focuses specifically on teams, it can also be applied to individual goal setting both in sport and in “real life.” However, it is definitely worth taking time to sit with your team and plan out how you are going to dominate this netball year. Sports psychology heavily emphasises the importance of setting team goals and I hope that this has been a helpful introductory guide.

Until next time, wish you a happy and healthy 2017, both on and off the court.

Osi