It’s a new year and so inevitably lots of talk amongst athletes and everyone else for that matter about what they want to achieve during 2017.
‘This year I’ll be on the podium at an ironman ‘ is a laudable aim and certainly this kind of outcome goal can be motivational. Visualising yourself standing there at the awards ceremony or running down the finish chute is a common process. This type of goal is overarching and doesn’t take account of the steps required to achieve it – these are the process goals. In the 2003 rugby world cup final Johnny Wilkinson famously and cooly kicked a drop goal in the last seconds of extra time to win the world cup for England. Interestingly, because of the nature of the situation and the position of the game, he knew exactly what was about to happen. England secured a line out and the plan was secure the ball and drive into midfield, feed the ball back to give Johnny Wilkinson his shot at goal. When asked later in an interview how he coped with the pressure of the moment knowing in advance that the opportunity was coming his way and in a cauldron of noise of mostly Australian fans trying to put him off, he said something along the lines of ‘it was ok as I’d done it hundreds of thousands of times before’. He went on to explain this in terms of the crucial elements of goal setting. He had visualised himself being successful in this exact situation, imagined how he would feel and done this enough to connect with the emotion of the act. But more importantly he had invested in the process. Hours and hours spent in the training ground perfecting technique so that it wouldn’t let him down in the critical moment. And so, when the moment came, his body and mind responded perfectly and the world cup was won.
So how does this apply to coaching triathlon? Well it’s good to have an outcome goal – challenging but achievable but the key to success is the process. Setting and mastering key process goals are essential in enabling you to, for instance, nail a key turbo session in mid-winter. A good coach will focus their athletes on the process goals over short/medium term whilst using the longer outcome goals to refocus and provide motivation but commitment to the process will always be the key to achieving your outcome goals in the end. They will also be able to ensure that the challenge of the process goal is appropriate building the athletes confidence and sense of achievement over the short term and ensuring that motivation levels stay high.
Commit to the process and the outcomes will look after themselves.