How Setting Goals Can Keep Kids Motivated During Time Off

There will be seasons in your child’s sports journey when they are forced out of the game—whether it’s the result of an injury or a pandemic, or even just the off-season—and they will face the challenge of either staying in shape or coming back to full steam at the end of the hiatus.

Goal setting during the break can help keep kids stay motivated, committed and focused on what they want to accomplish in their sport. Although athletes should drive their goal setting, coaches and parents can assist in the process. Here are some goal-setting guidelines:

List Strengths and Weaknesses

This is a good place to start as it helps your athlete focus on areas they want to improve. This is how goals can be born.

Be Specific

Specific goals are easier to measure and can help your child stay motivated as they see even incremental gains. Encourage your young athlete to keep a log of daily ‘wins.’ It will help him or her keep going when they review and can see progress.

Go Short-and Long-Term

Start by setting long-term goals. What does your child want to accomplish next season, or even in general? Then work backward and break goals into monthly, weekly and daily feats to tackle. Doing this helps keep goals manageable, yet sets kids on their way to big dreams.

Focus on What the Athlete Can Control

Your child can’t control their playing time, starting spot or the outcome of games. Kids also can’t control a coach’s attitude or team’s performance. However, they can control their own attitude, work ethic and their own improvements.

Go Beyond Physical Skills

The mental game can often get neglected in the shadow of skill-development. As your child works on physical goals, encourage them to set and focus on their mental skills too. For example, maybe they’ll want to work on staying calm before games, or on building confidence. Kids can also learn to visualize, which can help boost their success when it comes time to play.

Check In Regularly

Encourage your child to check in with you or their coach regularly, depending on the exact goal. Setting goals is one thing and staying accountable is another. Goal-setting can be a wasted exercise if goals are not monitored.

Work with your young athlete to help them enjoy the process of setting dreams. It can definitely increase their focus and help pass the time, too, especially when the off-season seems to stretch.



Janis Meredith is a family life coach who wants to help all parents raise champions. You can find out more at

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