The Power of Goals

With the beginning of a new year our thoughts turn to what we want to achieve – what goals we want to set for this year. Goals are important because they provide direction, motivation and focus. Goals are especially important in tennis – players who have clear goals, and an action plan to achieve them are more successful in the long run.

There are two types of goals that you want to be aware of : outcome goals, and process goals.

Outcome goals are the end result: winning a match; being selected for the state squad; achieving a ranking in the top 100; etc.

Process goalsare the specific steps, actions, behaviours, technical skills, moods, and mental processes required to achieve the desired outcome, for example serving 70% first services in court in a match; consistently using a receipt-of-serve routine throughout a match; staying calm and focused on the job when an obvious error in a line call goes against you; and so on.

In recent years, some people have suggested that it’s wrong to set and think abut outcome goals; that we ought focus upon and set just process goals. However both goals are important to success: without a clearly defined and desired outcome, motivation flags and there can be a loss of direction; without process goals we don’t have a clear plan or means for getting what we want. If you don’t have a specific destination in mind, you might be a good player, but you’ll end up going nowhere in particular – and this is what happens to many talented tennis players, simply because they don’t set long term goals. You want to have a desired outcome and not be afraid of setting it, and going for it. However you also want to have an achievable means by which you’re going to get your outcome – and these are your process goals.

What is important is knowing when to focus on outcome and when to focus on process. Generally, the time to think about outcome goals is prior to and after a performance; the time to focus on process goals is during a performance. If you think about winning during the match, your attention and concentration on the moment by moment play can suffer as you imagine the future, or regret past mistakes, instead of being in the present.

What would give you a real buzz to achieve for yourself in the next twelve months, and 3 to 5 years? The goals you set want to be big enough to challenge and inspire you, but not too far out of reach to be unrealistic. Remember the quality and scope of the goals you set influences not just your direction, but also your character and personality. Most people set goals that are well below their capabilities, simply because of fear of failing.

Face the fear; be courageous .

Write down now your two most important outcome goals to accomplish for this season and within 3 years, and a long term goal – something you’d like to achieve within 5 – 10 years.


This Season [ Or next six to twelve months ]



Within 3 Years



My Long Term, or Dream Goal [ Within 5 – 10 years ]



Congratulations …. by setting some specific goals you’re way ahead of most average sportspeople already! However, just setting goals is only the first step. Anyone can set goals. The difference between the person who sets a goal and achieves it, and the person who sets the goal and just dreams of achieving it, is twofold. Firstly, the achiever makes a committed decision backed by powerful reasons. Secondly, the achiever designs an actionplan, and puts it into practice.

Pick the most important goal you want to achieve, and write a paragraph on why you want to achieve it; what are the reasons for wanting it? How would you feel if you didn’t achieve it – what would you miss out on? And how are you going to feel when you do achieve it?

After you’ve written the reasons, design an action plan – what you’re going to do today, tomorrow, next week, next month, etc. to achieve the goal. How will you go about achieving it? What help do you need? What areas do you need to improve? What process goals do you want to set in order to achieve the outcome you want? [Ask yourself : What skills would I have developed, and to what level? What will be my fitness, strength, flexibility, agility, concentration, emotional control, desire, etc., and how will I have developed these?]

Finally, write your name in the space below for the committed decision and sign it. Commit yourself to your goal – but only do so if you really want it. If you’re really serious, have your coach, or parent, witness it and enlist their help in your achieving it.

Finally, remember to celebrate when you achieve your goals – and thank those who helped you!


I want to achieve _______________________________________ (goal), because …………..


I plan to take the following actions to achieve my goal …………….


I __________________________________________ (your name), truly want the above goal. I now make the decision to fully commit myself to achieve it.

Signed _________________________ Date ________ Witness ___________________

About Jeffrey Hodges B.Sc.(AES) M.Sc.(Hons)
Jeffrey Hodges is a performance consultant to elite athletes, sporting teams and corporate clients. He is the author of the widely acclaimed “Sportsmind – An Athlete’s Guide to Superperformance Through Mental & Emotional Training” and “Champion Thoughts, Champion Feelings”; creator of the Sportsmind performance enhancement workshops and audio tapes; and Director of the Sportsmind Institute for Human Performance Research.

He is a NLP Master Practitioner and Associate Trainer, and his Sportsmind programs have been endorsed by the NSW Dept Sport & Recreation, and recommended by top sportsclubs and successful athletes. Jeffrey has competed in many sports, notably Volleyball, Squash, Soccer and Golf, and currently trains in Aikido, holding a black belt.

Some of his clients to date include :
Australian Rugby Union
St. Joseph’s College
Woodlands Golf Club
Financial Institutions Remuneration Group (FIRG)
Societe Generale
Qld. Swimming
Network for Fitness Professionals
North Sydney and Penrith Rugby League Clubs
Qld. Athletics Assn
NSW Netball Assn
Northern Inland Academy of Sport
Victorian Soaring Assn
Orange Agricultural College Equestrian School
Qld and NSW Departments of Sport and Recreation
Qld Academy of Sport
and the RAAF.

For more information, contact :
FLAXTON Qld. Australia. 4560.
PHONE 61 7 5445 7994
email :
website :



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