In a previous post I discussed a little bit about why setting goals and telling other people about them are important. The purpose of this post is to detail my 2016 tennis goals.
The big reason I wanted to do this was because I’m struggling with following through on a few things that I know are important to my tennis game. I’ve never really been one to set New Year’s resolutions, but at various times in the year I’ve vowed to do something, like warm-up/cool-down/foam rolling every time I play tennis, or improve my serve, or even drink more water, all to no avail. So this is an experiment to see if setting and tracking specific goals will help me stay on track with a few things I’ve been trying to do.
There is so much information out there on how and why to set goals and on the different types of goals, but, as someone who struggles with analysis paralysis (overanalyzing something to the point it prevents you from actually doing anything), I’m not going to overthink this.
I’m basically setting an overarching long-term goal (or vision), a few shorter-term goals that will help me achieve this (enabling goals), and objectives for each enabling goal (very short-term, well defined goals, also could be called action steps). I’m not saying this is the best structure and I’m open to hearing ideas on how I can improve this!
Also, please note that this isn’t really comprehensive. I realize that to achieve my long-term goal many other things need to happen, but these are the things that I’ve been struggling to do consistently so I think they can probably benefit from some sort of structure.
A few more notes on goal setting
In the last post I went through a quick overview of SMART goal setting. I’m going to use these principles for setting my 2016 goals. However one thing I want to note that isn’t covered in SMART is the importance of having a good deal of control over the achievement of most your goals.
For example, I could set a goal of winning my Club Championships 2016. It is specific, measurable, achievable (I made it to the finals last year), relevant and timely, so fits in with the SMART principles. However, I actually don’t have very much control over the outcome of this. I might do everything right leading up to the tournament, taking care of my body and achieving my serving goals and really upping my game to the next level, but then a family emergency could come up and I’d have to pull out, or we might get a new member at the club who would give Serena Williams a run for her money and obliterate my chances. I’ve read that we need to be able to control the outcome of our goals, but at the same time I think we need to be a bit flexible here, since even very basic, short-term goals like “practice my serve 3 times this week” could get derailed by illness, family commitments or poor weather. For me, I’m going to do my best to make my goals within my control and I’m going to set deadlines rather than specific dates so that I’ll have time frames to work within rather than only one chance on one day to do something.
Another important point is that I’m trying to keep my goals progress-focused rather than outcome-focused. All of my goals are meant to help make me a better tennis player. Winning matches, if that happens, is just a by-product.
Long-term Goal (Vision)
I’ve always had the desire to get better at tennis, but have never really been able to say exactly what I’m trying to accomplish, or in other words, what my vision is. While I’m still not entirely sure (and I’ll be continuing to try to sort this out), I do think it’s important for me to choose a long term goal, one that is out of reach at the moment, that I can be working towards. So here it is: I’m turning 34 this spring, and once I’m 35, I can enter in Canadian Seniors events. From what I can tell, many of the women competing in the 35-40 year-old category in Canadian ITF Seniors events are former NCAA college players and even some former pros. My goal is to compete in a Canadian ITF Seniors event in 2017 – the year I turn 35. While it may not seem to be enough of a goal to just enter, I think that the prospect of having to test my game in 2 years against some very high level players will be a good motivator to work hard and improve.
In SMART Terms here is my tennis vision:
Specific: to compete in a Canadian ITF Seniors event in the Women’s Singles O35 category in 2017.
Measurable: Did I compete in one tournament or not, yes or no?
Attainable: I only have to compete, there are no qualifications other than turning at least 35 in 2017 so the only hard part is working up the courage to do it!
Relevant: Do I actually want to do this? YES! I think that having this overarching goal will motivate me to finally commit to improving my serve and some of my underused shots like my overhead.
Timely: I think that 1-2 years for completing this goal is reasonable as it gives me time to make some of the improvements I want to, but isn’t so much time that I can put the improvements off any longer. Also I have the whole year in 2017 to do it so should be able to work around any barriers like injuries or other commitments.
In order to be able to compete at a high level in 2017, there are things that need to happen. Some important ones are:
a) Stay healthy, injury-free and fit
Specific: play tennis 4 times per week in 2016 season with no more than 1 week required consecutive rest for injuries
Measurable: This is a yes or no
Attainable: I think so
Relevant: probably the single most important short term goal for achieving my vision. I can’t afford lengthy injury time outs
Timely: This is something I want to do every season, not just in 2016!
Objectives to make this happen:
- Work with a personal trainer to develop an off-court training program focusing on kinetic chain, mobility, strength and power
- Complete workouts 12 times per month (average 3 times per week) and record in logbook
b) Turn serve from weakness into weapon
Specific: Hit back fence on first bounce on first serve by end of 2016 (since I don’t have a radar gun this will give me a way to determine if I’ve added power to my first serve as I can’t do this now except on occasion)
Measurable: Can I reliably hit the back fence on my first serve, yes or no?
Achievable: Some tiny women on tour can do this. I don’t see why I can’t (I’m 5’10).
Relevant: Adding power to my serve will help me put pressure on my opponents and allow me to play at the next level without being at a disadvantage in my service games like I am now
Timely: Needs to be a priority since it’s a big weakness now, but will take some time to achieve
Objectives to make this happen:
- Improve shoulder mobility – Do mobility program 12 times per month (average 3 times per week) and record in logbook
- Technique improvement off-court – Re-watch Jeff Salzenstein serve course and do shadow stroking drills 6 times per month for January, February, March and April
- At least one 1-hour serve practice session per week on court beginning in May
c) Improve my mental game
This one is the hardest as I really don’t know how to set a SMART goal for it! I’m just going to list some action items that I’m planning to do this year to improve my mental game and will see if I can come up with a specific strategy later on.
- yoga – 8 times per month (average 2 times per week)
- reading – develop reading list and finish 4 books before May
- meditation – choose guided meditation program and do 1 session per week
Visual Summary of my 2016 Goals:
I would love to hear your feedback. Have you done something similar for 2016?