Using Effort Goals


How to use goals to keep players motivated
Effort Goals are a Powerful Tool
  • Encourage players to set effort goals instead of outcome goals
  • Effort goals are largely under a players control regardless of the competition
  • Players that are recognized for trying hard, will be more likely to continue
  • Getting players to understand what it means to try hard can help them throughout their life
Examples of Effort Goals
  • Run hard through first base on a grounder
  • Make contact with opponent to block out after a shot
  • Sprint after ground balls
Setting Effort Goals
  • Effort Goals can be set by the coach but are more powerful when players are encouraged to set their own
  • Stress that Effort Goals are 1) about how hard one tries, and 2) under the control of the player
  • If necessary a coach can “seed” the discussion by throwing out some possible Effort Goals and ask players to pick their own
  • Encourage attaching a number to Effort Goals, and strive to increase the number for the next time
  • Have players set Effort Goals for practices, games or the whole season
Game and Season-Long Effort
  • Effort Goals keep teams trying throughout a game or season regardless of the score
  • As long as a team has a chance to achieve its’ Effort Goals, it will be more likely to work hard
  • Review progress toward Effort Goals throughout the duration of the season
  • Effort Goals help players feel good about their improvement, which helps them to give their best effort
Effort Goals for Talented Groups
  • Effort Goals are not just for out-matched athletes or teams
  • Effort Goals can be useful for talented teams to keep them improving even when they outmatch opponents
  • Goals like using your weak hand or trying a new move have the dual benefit of  keeping the more talented team from rolling up the score even further and having players improve their execution of new skills
Linking Effort Goals to Outcome Goals
  • Outcome Goals can eventually be used along with Effort Goals with older athletes but can discourage younger age groups
  • Well-designed Effort Goals should, over time, move on toward Outcome Goals
  • There is a connection between Effort and Outcome Goals

As an example…

If a basketball coach wants their team to work hard at driving to the basket, together they can set an Effort Goal of shooting at least 20 free throws per game. Taking the ball aggressively to the basket will often lead the other team to foul, giving their team free throws. If the team achieves its’ Effort Goal of 20 free throws in the game, it is much more likely to also achieve its Outcome Goal of winning the game.

Examples of Outcome Goals
  • Beat the throw to first base
  • Get the rebound
  • Gain possession of the ball
  • Get the ball first and control it
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Positive Coaching Alliance is a national non-profit developing “Better Athletes, Better People” by working to provide all youth and high school athletes a positive, character-building youth sports experience.

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