Goal Setting: Stanford Wrestling

by Jarrod Spencer, Psy.D.
Sports Psychologist

Benefits of Utilizing Sports Psychology:
As an athlete matures in his or her sport, the importance of the mental component of the game increases. Yet, despite this known fact, many athletes fail to devote the proper amount of time to condition themselves mentally for this elevated competition. When elite athletes are questioned about the reasons for their success, psychological factors are typically cited - mental toughness, focus, good decision making, and a positive attitude. These elite athletes typically utilize a sports psychologist; every Olympic, professional, and major college sports program has one. As athletes with promising athletic and academic futures, the time might be right to begin a mental conditioning program that will enhance your overall performance. Results from participating in such a program include greater academic success, elevated athletic performance, and heightened college/career prospects. These results are achieved through specific skill development designed to achieve an optimal arousal level, control self-defeating thoughts, maintain concentration during moments of pressure, tap unused reserves of energy, and much more. 
If you are interested in further utilizing sports psychology to achieve your goals, contact Dr. Spencer to schedule an appointment. All sessions are conducted individually and tailored to meet the specific needs of the athlete. Some people ask "Why should I consider sports psychology?" I often respond "Because the impact of developing your psychological abilities will outlast your physical developments and extend far beyond the realm of athletics."

Relevant Information to Enhance Your Goal Writing Experience:

The Power of Writing Goals
When Emmitt Smith was a running back in high school in Florida, his coach told him, "It's a dream until you write it down. Then it's a goal." In subsequent years, Emmitt put his desires into writing, revising them when appropriate. In 1993, he wrote down his dream of breaking Walter Payton's all-time NFL rushing record  and what he would have to do to turn that desire into a reality - averaging 125 yards rushing per game, avoiding fumbles, and staying healthy. In an article in Sports Illustrated, he said, "I can be there, but I've got to hit one helluva pace. . . I can do that." In October of 2002, Emmitt reached his goal: He is now the all-time leading rusher in the NFL.

Tips to Writing Better Goals
(Adapted from The Mental Edge by Kenneth Baum)
When writing your goals, the acronym SMART will help you with the process.
Specific - Make it clear what you want. Use numbers not vague statements. 
Measurable - Be able to keep track of your progress toward your goal.
Attainable - Make it relevant to your skills and level of expertise.
Realistic - For example, don't set your goal to win the Olympics this year.
Time frame - Keep in mind the limited time you have to achieve these goals.

Benefits of Goal Setting
(Adapted from Winning the Mental Way by Karlene Sugarman)
1. Improves the quality of practice and performance.
2. Increases motivation and sustains motivation over a longer period of time. 
3. Relieves boredom by making training more challenging.
4. Lessens the doubt that you can't accomplish something.
5. Encourages you to be persistent in your pursuit.
6. Directs attention to the task at hand.
7. Helps put things in proper perspective.
8. Clarifies expectations between athlete, teammates, coaches, and parents. 
9. Increases pride and satisfaction.
10. A mechanism for building self-confidence.


Download full Goal Setting for Stanford Wrestling document