How to Set Goals in Diving

Goal setting, when done well, can provide you with a sense of direction and purpose; a reason to keep returning to the water. Well-thought goals can provide you with long-lasting motivation.

There is more to goal setting than just identifying your ultimate long-term goal. Smaller short-term goals will bring a sense of accomplishment to your daily diving routine, and propel you through a plateau or a slump. These short-term goals will also help you mark progress along the way to your biggest dreams.

Here’s how to incorporate goal setting into your training plan.

Write Your Goals Down

One effective method for goal setting is to write your plans down on paper. Although you can process your goals in your mind, you might find them more useful if you actually write them down. The written word confirms your intentions, and acts as a foundation for your mental strength. Writing your goals down can be profoundly effective in accomplishing them.

Types of Goals

There are two types of goals you can write: Long-term and short-term goals. Long-term goals include plans you have for the distant future; ultimate goals you want to strive for. Short-term goals are plans you can put into place immediately.

Within both short-term and long-term goals there are two additional types of goals you should consider: Outcome and process goals. You can use both types of these goals in the short-term to propel you toward your long-term objective. Here is a description of each:

  • Outcome goals: These usually pertain to the outcome of a meet. Examples include: Getting 1st place at the next invitational meet, finishing in the top 10 at Senior Nationals, or scoring sevens or higher on your 103B (forward 1 ½ pike).
  • Process goals: These are specific skills and elements of diving. Examples include: Performing underwater saves on all backward and reverse optional dives, performing a forward 2 ½ pike on 3-meter, or maintaining form throughout all dives in a list.

While you always have a degree of control of your process goals, you don’t necessarily have control over what will happen in a competition. Outcomes are elusive! Your best performance may not result in the outcome you desire. However, by setting process goals, you can measure your success — not strictly on the outcome of a competition — but rather on the various details involved in your performance.

Build a Ladder of Goals

Start with the biggest and longest-term goal of your diving career. Maybe this is making the Olympics, or perhaps competing at Senior Nationals.

Next, consider what you need to do on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis to reach your ultimate goal. For example, in order to achieve the goal of making Senior Nationals, you will need to rip most of your entries. To accomplish this, you might need to get in the water on a daily basis, and use the first 10 minutes of every workout for Lineups and Entries. Perhaps you need to enter 10 meets a year, or set a best score you would like to reach at a qualifying meet. All of these things should be on your ladder of goals.

Hot Tip: Define Your Goals

Well-defined goals are measurable, challenging, and realistic. They have deadlines, and are not indefinite. Most of all, well-defined goals are dictated by actions that are in your control. Try to make your goals achievable so you may relish in your success.

Eliminate Stumbling 

Think about any obstacles or weaknesses you may have. Once you identify these, you can write goals aimed at improving in these areas. Perhaps your weakness is balking in practice. If this is the case, set a goal like not balking in three out of five workouts for the week. If you accomplish this, raise the standard: Keep four out of five practices balk-free. Eventually, every practice will follow suit.

If a common obstacle for you is completing your homework and getting to practice, develop a plan that will help you accomplish both goals simultaneously. Perhaps you need to change your workout time to earlier in the morning. Maybe working on a school project over the weekend to get it ready for the following week will help. Whatever your solution is, write it down, and aim to accomplish it.

Re-evaluate & Adjust Goals

Inevitably, there are times when things don’t go according to plan. Sickness, injury, and scheduling conflicts are bound to arise. Once you’ve written out your goals, you will constantly have to re-evaluate them and adjust when necessary.

If you have fallen off your schedule, take the time to reset your goals so that they are still challenging, but also realistic. Similarly, if you are way ahead of where you thought you would be, it is time to write more challenging goals.

Hot Tip: Create Rewards

Create positive incentives for yourself. Keep your rewards realistic, affordable, and healthy. On days when you need a little extra motivation to get to the pool, the thought of your reward might just inspire you!

Create Accountability

Most people need some outside accountability to follow through with their plans. This is where teammates, family members, and coaches come in handy. Once you’ve written your goals, make them public. Be vocal about what your goals are, what your rewards are, and what you will do when you miss your targets. Rely on your support group to keep you honest and on track.

Get Started

Now that you know how to use goal setting, go ahead and get started! Write down both your long-term and short-term goals. Provide yourself with some incentives to accomplish them. Lastly, establish accountability with your coach or friends to back you up. Once you’ve taken those steps, you’ll be on your way towards realizing your goals!

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