There are times when goals within the season, and games, are a team's barometer for a successful season

Now that the high school season has ended, have you and your child had time to reflect on the season?

Would your child consider it a successful season? Would you? I always thought it was easy to determine which teams had successful seasons and which ones didn’t.

Obviously, the teams that win Section V or state championships at the end of the season had more “success” than teams that only won half of their games. It wasn’t until later in my coaching career when I first began to consider that perhaps success on youth teams may not be determined solely by wins and losses.

On a recent team that I coached, prior to the season starting, a few of the players said six words to me that are difficult for any coach to hear. They said, “Coach, we’re gonna stink this year.”

While I knew we were losing some quality players, and I had no idea the skill level of the incoming players, deep down, I understood what these players were really saying to me. They were saying, ”Coach, we don’t believe in ourselves.”

I took this as a challenge.

I attended two separate coaching clinics before the season started, both of which emphasized the importance of setting SMARTER goals for your team and your players:

Be SPECIFIC: Help the team determine what it really wants to accomplish. If the goal is vague, it’s much more difficult to achieve because it becomes more difficult to define success.

Make the goal MEASURABLE: You have to be able to track progress and measure the result of the goal, otherwise you won’t know whether or not it has been achieved.

The goal has to be AGREED upon by everyone on the team. It gives the players ownership and something for all of them to work toward.

The goal must be REALISTIC. The goal should be equally challenging as it is attainable.

Set a TIME LIMIT. There must be a deadline to accomplish the goal.

The goal must be ETHICAL. It must fit within the rules and values of the team.

RECORD the goal. Goals have a better chance of being achieved if they are written down.

While I was a little skeptical of the SMARTER goals theory, I hesitantly decided to give it a try. After our first week of pre-season, I asked the players on the team to define what a successful season looks like.

Wins and losses are overrated. None of the players from the previous season could even remember last year’s record. What could we do to stand out from all the other teams in the past? After some discussion, the players said to me, “Coach, we want to score goals. (specific).”

So, I accumulated all of our stats from the previous two seasons. Over the course of those two seasons, we averaged just under 2 goals per game. The players agreed on a goal for themselves. They wanted to score 30 goals in 15 games (measurable).

It seemed realistic enough. I made a chart. After each game, whoever scored a goal would rip one of the goals off the chart putting us one goal closer to 30 (record).

We did this throughout the entire season. To make a long story short, the players did not score 30 goals.

They ended up scoring 67, with 16 different players scoring.

While this particular team didn’t win sectionals, states, or even their league, the players and myself learned a valuable lesson in setting goals, which is what allowed all of us to experience such a successful season.