Goal setting is an important aspect of achievement in the sport of diving, as it is in any other sport, and in life. This important aspect of sports psychology should not be discounted, but given its due as an important tool for assisting a diver to improve and stay involved in the sport.
It may seem obvious that a diver wants to improve, but many athletes do not understand the process that brings about change and improvement. This is especially true with beginners who often do not have a clear understanding as to the big picture, and need goals to help them advance and move to the next level. Divers, and athletes in general, need this direction and support, making goal setting as important as having a coach.
Setting and achieving a goal gives the diver a purpose to the long and many times arduous days of training. What is the purpose of practice when there is no end in sight? Asking a diver to come to practice everyday without giving direction is a recipe for disaster. There are a small percentage of athletes that posses the drive and determination to be good and will do well without structure and direction, but this is not the norm.
Goal Setting Changes Behavior
Goal setting helps to effectively change behavior and as a result, helps the diver become more effective and productive. Goals create a target, and a target is many times needed to change the behavior of a diver or athlete. Most individuals are reluctant to change behaviors because they are comfortable with the status quo. But without change, a diver cannot improve on their skills and ability to compete.
Allow the Diver to Set the Goals
One of the most important aspects of goal setting is to make sure that the goals set, are goals that come from the diver. The diver needs to feel comfortable that the goals, and the choices being made, come as much from the athlete as from the coach. This allows the diver to “buy in” to the concept of training as opposed to practice being an activity.
There is always much more motivation when the diver achieves a goal set by themselves, as opposed to goals set by a teacher, coach or parent. This is especially true when the goal is harder to achieve, such as the difference between learning a forward line up and a more challenging forward 2 ½ in tuck.
So as a coach, and a diver, consider goals an important aspect of any training regime and do not discount the valuable lessons that can be taught by setting clear and concise goals.