Psyched Online

What Type of Goals Should a Golfer Set?

With Paul Schienberg, PhD

Setting goals improves performance in at least two ways: 1) working toward a goal improves self-confidence and motivation, and reduces anxiety; 2) Performance goals – playing to personal standards and set for yourself – are more effective than outcome goals (like winning a tournament or match).

Golfing and Goals for ImprovmentGoal-setting begins by knowing your present situation. Develop a picture, or write a description of where you are now. Then develop a picture of the level of play you would like to achieve. That’s your goal. It doesn’t have to be difficult. For some people, it might be sufficient to play well enough with friends. For most golfers though, it will be about improved shot-making, better scores or a lower handicap.

Divide performance goals into short, medium, and long term. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you set out to work with your performance goals. Break your game down into its various parts…putting, chipping, long irons, drives and so on. Putting and chipping can be combined to lower your short-game scores. Achieving successive goals like these improve your chances of making it to a longer-term goal, such as a lower handicap within a certain time limit.

It is important to make the goals realistic – not a wish. Make the goal specific, measurable, simple, challenging and achievable. Begin with a few relatively easy short-term goals. It boosts your morale as you work toward a long-term goal, and it keeps goal setting in perspective and keeps you focused on progress. Stick to the idea that a goal must motivate.

Write down long-term goals. Express them in the present tense, in positive terms, and in words that create an image of you achieving the goal. Be as wordy as you need to be to start with, then, rewrite your goals in progressively shorter forms, until they’re just a word or two long. These then become your power words, your affirmation phrases.

Motivate yourself by setting realistic target dates. Review your progress and your goals regularly. It lets you check that your goals are reality rather than fantasy, and whether you need to revise them.

No matter how a performance turns out, if you do not meet a well-thought out and realistic goals, you may be sad and disappointed. But, do not wallow in failures. Disappointment is an experience to learn from. So don’t beat yourself up for not doing as well as you hoped, and then set about learning from the experience.