Setting Smart Goals in Sports – Step-by-Step Guide

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Setting goals in sports is quite easy, but are they really achievable? In this article, we are going to explain how setting smart goals can help you to reach new heights. A smart goal is efficient, reasonable, well thought out and most importantly, achievable.
Setting Smart goals in sports

Goals play a huge part in your everyday life as they provide a sense of direction, motivation, focus, and brings out what is important.

Setting goals can be fun and challenging at the same time if the goal is reasonable and smart.

Properly worded goals should cover all of these criteria and eventually help you focus on your end result and increase the chances of achieving it.

How to properly set smart goals in sports and how can these goals improve your performance? 

Let’s dive in!

What are smart goals?

SMART goals are one of the most famous goal setting techniques where behind every letter is a keyword to help you set a goal that is clear, realistic, and measurable.

Goals meet SMART criteria if they are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

Why do I need to set smart goals in sports?

Setting goals in sports can be difficult as sometimes you set your goals too high (it’ll be impossible to achieve them) and sometimes you set them too low (it’ll be way too easy to achieve them) and you won’t feel as motivated.

Perfectly formulated goals are reachable and motivating and will keep you on your toes and make you not want to quit.

SMART goal definition with examples and helpful questions

When setting realistic goals you would like to achieve, go through all the smart goal criteria step-by-step.

Grab a pen, open a new spreadsheet, and start writing down your smart goals.


Make sure your goals are detailed and visual.

For example, you can set your goal to go to the gym 5 times a week. 

Specific goals have a higher chance of being achievable.

To make a goal specific, here are some questions that might help you:

  • What exactly do I want to achieve?
  • Where?
  • How?
  • When?
  • With whom?
  • What are the conditions and limitations?
  • Why do I want to reach this goal?
Smart Goal - Specific. Definition with example questions

If you want to improve your athletic performance, your goal can be “to complete my first 10K race within the next three months.”

If you want to get into better shape, your goal can be “to reduce my body fat by 6 percent in the next six months.”


The aim is to break your goal down into measurable components.

Assessing progress helps you to stay focused, be prepared for the upcoming competition in time, and feel the excitement of getting closer to achieving your goal.

To have a measurable goal, it should answer the following questions:

  • How much?
  • How will I know if I have reached my goal?
  • What is my indicator of progress?
Measurable. Definition with example questions

For example, if you are a runner, who has just started their professional career, it is not reasonable to set your goal straight to the Olympic normative.

It’s smart to start small and slowly keep growing your record.


A smart goal has to be achievable and attainable. Don’t make the same mistake as a lot of people do by making their goals unreachable.

Your goal should keep you on your toes, but still, make you feel like your goal is doable.

 You can help yourself by asking these two questions:

  • Do I have the resources and capabilities to achieve the goal? If not, what am I missing?
  • Have others done it successfully before?
Achievable. Definition with example questions


The main question is who am I doing this for? Me or someone else? Being successful for yourself is more important than doing enough for someone else.

Personal goals will help achieve more than motivation for someone else. Self-motivation leads to smart training and helps you achieve your goals.

Make sure your goals are important to YOU, not anyone else.

Relevant. Definition with example questions


A smart goal should always have a start and finish date. If there isn’t any specific timeframe to your goal it won’t be as motivating to fulfill it. 

Try asking yourself:

  • Does my goal have a deadline?
  • By when do I want to achieve this goal?
Time Bound. Definition with example questions

For example, every professional athlete is preparing for the Olympic Games.

They all have a specific timeframe when they need to be their best.

Some athletes start their preseason 10 months before the event, others might only need 6 months.


Remember that your goal has to be specific, meaning you can use these questions we mentioned earlier to shape your goal and make it more understandable.

Be sure to break your goal into measurable pieces so that it’ll be easier to track your progress and stay motivated.

The aim is to keep you on your toes but still make you feel like your goal is achievable. Do it because you want to, not for anyone else.

Make sure you have a start and finish date added to your goal.

Guide for setting smart goals
Ask yourself the right questions when setting smart goals

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