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Goal Setting: It’s All in the Process

By Enio Sacilotto on October 12, 2016

The beginning of a new hockey season is upon us and that means it is a great time to think about what you want to accomplish this year. In other words, it is time to set some goals. Why is this important? Goals are a crucial mental training technique that, when the process is done properly, provide motivation, focus, confidence, the ability to overcome setbacks and the will to work hard day in and day out. 

There is an enormous amount of scientific proof that athletes who set goals achieve more throughout their careers. Setting goals will help you determine where you currently are and create a plan to get you where you want to be. Goals allow you to decide on an outcome, make a plan, continually check your progress, and make the appropriate adjustments to keep you on course. A clear illustration of the process of goal setting is using a GPS (or Google Maps) to help you find a location. You input your destination into your GPS, as you begin to drive it keeps you on course, but when you take a wrong turn the GPS will recalculate your route and set you back on the right course to reach your destination. Goal setting does the same thing. As long as you know your desired destination you can keep recalculating to ensure you reach it. 

To accomplish this you have to be aware of the three types of goals you need to set; Process Goals, Performance Goals and Outcome Goals:

Of the three types of goals, your process goals are the most important. In hockey, they are strategically focused on the skills, techniques, strategies and behaviours (mental training) that will help you reach your performance and outcome goals. This is taking the time to choose skills (whether mental or physical) that you would like to see an improvement in, devise a plan that will allow you to work on that area and a schedule to find time to work on these skills. This is the ‘hard work’ part of goal setting. This is when you get down and dirty by taking 100 draws a day, working on your footwork, trying to increase your speed or working on whatever skill you are trying to perfect. Performance goals and outcome goals allow you to measure your work in this area and see the final results of your hard work. This is the area when the rubber hits the road. This is why your focus and energy must go into this area. You will create the habits that will raise the level of your game. By setting your process goals, your self-confidence will increase, your anxiety will decrease, your concentration will improve and you will approach the daily grind with enthusiasm. It has been proven time and time again that your individual performance will improve quicker if you focus on the process rather than the performance and outcome. 

Performance goals are what set the standard for what you are trying to achieve. These can be statistically based and measured. They can be used to monitor your achievement. When you have a series of measurements related to a certain part of your performance, you can go back and compare your numbers to previous results. Make sure that your performance goals are realistic, challenging and appropriate to your outcome goals. These types of goals are semi-controllable and are not solely based on outcomes. You may not win the game, but the fact that you performed well can give you satisfaction. Performance goals are the building blocks to achieve your outcome goals. 

Traditionally, the goals you set will look at a final outcome, for example you may want to make a certain team, lead the team in scoring and the ultimate goal of winning a championship. All of these objectives are based on an end result. These are called outcome goals. Setting outcome goals is crucial, but you also have to know how to get to that point. When you reach an elite level in sport; skill, desire and effort need to be focused. If this is done properly in the process and performance goal stages then your chance of success at the outcome goal stage is much higher. Outcome goals create the big picture and are necessary for you to set, they will give you focus during the other stages. 

A few final thoughts: 
Reaching your goals is a difficult task. It requires you to be responsible and committed to do the things necessary to reach your goal over the long term. 

Set goals in all areas of your game (mental, physical, technical & tactical) and your life (sport, school, social, personal development & family).

Take ownership for your goals. You cannot achieve something for someone else and they cannot achieve for you. Your goals have to be your own.

Set team goals as well as individual goals.

Write your goals down on paper, when on paper they become real and tangible. Look at your goals everyday.

All three types of goals are interwoven and are all needed. In order of importance: 1) Process goals, 2) Performance goals 3) Outcome goals.

By setting goals you will achieve new heights that you never imagined possible! 


Goal setting is like using a GPS: If you get off course, you need to recalculate to get back on the path towards your goal.

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By Enio Sacilotto| October 12, 2016
Categories:  Performance

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