How to Use Goals to Create Buy-In for Your Team

I really love the process of building our team each off-season and developing the players both
towards their full potential. When you’re developing a team for the fall, you must be able to use goals to create buy-in for your team.

One of our big instructional units each off-season is Goal Setting.

This is conducted over a month period early in the new year. The way we do this is more like a
unit than a simple activity. It’s best to use a classroom and do it over the course of time rather
than viewing it as something that can be done in one session. Since we are working on
developing the entire person, the goals are related to their athletics, academics, and careers.

Team Goals

During our 1st session, I will give a lesson on what goals are and how to set goals. The acronym
S.M.A.R.T (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound) as it relates to goals provides
our student-athletes with clarity. We will review the process of identifying and setting goals.
Players are taught the difference between outcome goals, performance goals, and process
goals. Players are broken into small groups (usually their off-season squads) and have them
brainstorm team goals for the year. At the end of the 1st session on goal setting we have each
group present the goals they identified. I write down on the white board common ones that
are presented.

Example from our own worksheet.

In our 2nd session on goal setting, I will provide the team with the most common team goals
selected. We as a team will discuss them and select the 5, we feel would be the ones the team
wants to challenge themselves to achieve. Remember, I am moderating and leading, but the
players are coming up with the goals. This is very important in order to get full buy-in.

It doesn’t do any good for the coaches to come up with the goals and present them to the team.
Players must be heavily involved in the process of goal setting for the season.

Athletic Goals

Our 3rd session will focus on personal goals for the coming season. Players at this point have
most likely given this area lots of thought since their exit meetings at the end of football
season. Each player will list 3 outcome goals, performance goals and process goals for
themselves as it relates to the position they will be playing.

An example of an outcome goal could be “get reps in every varsity game” or “starting Defensive Tackle on Varsity”.

As a coach you should always be a little wary of outcome goals since they are not fully within a player’s
control. An example of a performance goal could be “average 3 yards after contact” for a
Running Back.

I like to see the creativity players use for performance goals. The athletes will also list process goals. These are goals that will help them on a daily/weekly basis work towards their performance and outcome goals.

Strength Goals & Academic Goals

In our 4th session our focus will be on Strength Goals and Academic Goals for the coming
season. These 2 areas are pretty important pieces to being a solid student-athlete.

They will identify the performance goals (numbers) they are going to work to achieve, and the process goals related to each. For example if a player lists 305 for his Power Clean Goal he may list
“work on catch phase 2 days per week” as his Process Goal related.

Much of this is Goal Setting form is now done online as it is set up as a Google document for the
players to fill out. Following the 4th session, I will allow the players a week to clean it up and
make any changes if necessary.

During our 5th and final session on Goal Setting we will review our Team Goals and Individual
Goals for the coming season. Players will make sure to sign the Goal Setting Worksheet.

The document is shared with all the coaches on staff so they can support each player in their
position group and ensure they are working towards their goals.


This process and document provide the coaches an opportunity to review with their position group during the summer our team goals and each player’s individual goals. My experience is that when players set challenging but achievable
goals, they will spend the time working towards them and feel as though we are all supporting
each other and working together towards a common cause. This is one of the reasons I have
found we have tremendous buy-in, and all players believe they have a role in our success.

Here’s the full sheet if you’d like to use it for inspiration for your own program:

If you are interested in many more of these documents, check out my Head Coach’s Manual by clicking the button below:

This article was originally published in Headsets: Volume 1, Issue 6.


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