Goal setting is an integral part of moving through life in a fulfilling manner. It provides a focus that channels our energies; it helps us to maintain our perseverance, and allows us to enjoy the ride while striving for our goal. In skiing, this life skill is developed from an early age, as it is essential in guiding a skiing development, and eventually, a skiing career.
Alpine ski racing is tough. We are outside in the winter, in weather conditions that can get very nasty. Our play field is ever changing. Snow quality is never the same, settings depend on the coach. We need good equipment that has to be constantly maintained, and then a difference of 1/100th of a second determines being #1 or#2 in a race. So goal setting is very important, it increases motivation.
To set goals, it is advisable to follow some guidelines.
Long term goals: these are goals that specify what the athlete wants to achieve in his career, like receiving a college scholarship and/or racing in the world cup circuit. These are what we can call dreams, and they are kept in the back of the athlete’s mind. But they are the most powerful driving force, even though the focus in them is sporadic.
Seasonal goals: these goals are essential to steer the competition period. Examples are to attain a certain ranking or points level, or break into a more competitive environment.
Competitive goals are those set for certain competitions that will allow the racer to qualify for events, or be named to a team. These goals are important as they permit to achieve the seasonal goals.
Training goals are the ones set to achieve the competitive goals, by working physical, mental and technical abilities.
Lifestyle goals are those set to improve the athlete’s general lifestyle to achieve all of the above goals.
Finally, goals must be challenging, but attainable. They should be only reachable by hard work. They should be time-limited and measurable. It is important to consider always the possibility of attaining a degree of the goal, rather than absolute attainment. There will always be improvement towards a goal through sustained and hard work. There is really no end in the process of goal setting, as they are constantly revised and new ones have to be set, once the previous ones are achieved.