Goal Setting with Swimmers


Looking for a quick primer on how to help your swimmers set effective goals?  Read the tips below to help your swimmers get on a great goal setting path. 



  • Ask your swimmers to define GOALS. Have them discuss why they set goals. Then, discuss additional ways that goals can help performance.
  • Teach your swimmers the importance of Systematic Goal Setting (using different lengths and types of goals) and give examples of elite athletes to stress your point.
  • Discuss, in detail, the tips of effective goal setting as outlined above.
  • Have the swimmers complete some of the goal setting exercises.
  • Brainstorm ways for the team to “stay on top of” the goal setting plan.


Here is a brief and simple process for facilitating goal setting for swimmers who have the cognitive ability to set goals, usually starting at about age 12 or 13. Younger swimmers generally do not have the cognitive ability to do meaningful goal setting.

  1. Meet with the swimmer individually to listen to his or her hopes and dreams
  2. Ask the swimmer to identify one to three events to set specific goals
  3. Review current best times
  4. Negotiate a specific goal time and target date for each chosen event
  5. Write down these times
  6. Figure out and write the specific splits needed to meet each goal time
  7. List several process goals needed to achieve each goal time. These might be times to hold on practice sets or skills that must be maintained during practice.
  8. Ask the swimmer to list what he or she needs from the coach to accomplish the goals
  9. Ask the swimmer to write his or her process and outcome goals and post them where the swimmer will see them often
  10. Look for and recognize workout performances that can be related to process and outcome goals
  11. Review process goals regularly with the swimmer


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