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Issue 430 - "Championship Goal Setting" (Suzanne Yoculan Part Six)

Woodens Wisdom
Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 10 Issue 430
Craig Impelman Speaking |  Championship Coaches |  Champion's Leadership Library Login



Legendary Georgia Women's Gymnastics coach Suzanne Yoculan and Coach Wooden both won 10 NCAA championships. Both coaches were similar in their approach to goal setting which was a key to their consistent excellence.
Coach Wooden described his approach this way: "There is a tendency at times to set goals that are so idealistic that they are unattainable and thus become counterproductive. Goals should be difficult, but in the realm of possibility. My goal was to step up the quality of our effort, preparation, and execution and to strive to get closer and closer to full competency without worrying about the score."
Former player, the late great Dave Meyers, described Coach Wooden's approach: "Coach Wooden never limited himself by thinking about what's possible. He focused on the "right now" and was more involved with the better than the best. Let's get better, not worried about if it makes us best."
Coach Wooden set no limit on the performance level of his teams because he knew they could always improve, and he insisted that they did. Coach and his assistants built a master calendar before any practices started for the entire pre-season. The coaches calendared when every play, defensive concept/technique or new drill would be added and how much time would be allotted. Every element of their basketball system was accounted for in their incremental goal setting.
In her book, Perfect 10 with Bill Donaldson, Coach Yoculan described her approach to goal setting:
"You must establish goals for the athlete that go beyond any achievements she has attained in the past. Setting goals is motivating for the gymnast provided you lay out the intermediate steps for achieving the ultimate goals. These must all be clearly defined. Then motivation results from the melding of the desire, determination, and effort with the vision of pride and fulfillment of achieving the goals.
Every year, one of our team goals is to win the NCA.A National Championship, but because that goal is far away from the beginning of the season, we set other specific team goals that may be even more challenging initially. In gymnastics, individual goals are just as important as team goals. They include developing new and more challenging skills and improving consistency and execution. All our goals were precisely defined, and their achievement can be measured objectively and quantitatively. Most important, we focused on goals that we can control. You motivate by helping athletes achieve their goals."
Coach Yoculan and Coach Wooden both set difficult but achievable goals. A clear precise detailed incremental plan was defined and in both cases the achievement of the defined goals was within the control of the participants. External influences would neither help nor hurt goal achievementt, thus the goals were motivating not frustrating.
What are the defined fundamentals of your goal setting process? Do they frustrate or motivate the participants?

Yours in Coaching,
Craig Impelman




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Application Exercise




When I was young and frivolous and never stopped to think,
When I was always doing wrong, or just upon the brink;
When I was just a lad of seven and eight and nine and ten,
It seemed to me that every day I got in trouble then,
And strangers used to shake their heads and say I was no good,
But father always stuck to me — it seems he understood.

I used to have to go to him 'most every night and say
The dreadful things that I had done to worry folks that day.
I know I didn't mean to be a turmoil round the place,
And with the women folks about forever in disgrace ;
To do the way they said I should, I tried the best I could,
But though they scolded me a lot — my father understood.

He never seemed to think it queer that I should risk my bones,
Or fight with other boys at times, or pelt a cat with stones;
An' when I'd break a window pane, It used to make him sad,
But though the neighbors said I was, he never thought me bad;
He never whipped me, as they used to say to me he should;
That boys can't always do what's right — it seemed he understood.

Now there's that little chap of mine, just full of life and fun,
Comes up to me with solemn face to tell the bad he's done.
It's natural for any boy to be a roguish elf,
He hasn't time to stop and think and figure for himself,
And though the women folks insist that I should take a hand,
They've never been a boy themselves, and they don't understand.

Someday I've got to go up there, and make a sad report
And tell the Father of us all where I have fallen short;
And there will be a lot of wrong I never meant to do,
A lot of smudges on my sheet that He will have to view.
And little chance for heavenly bliss, up there, will I command,
Unless the Father smiles and says: ' My boy, I understand.'

Edgar Allen Guest (1881-1959)






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