Goal Setting for Sailing

Aiming to give an overview of the goal setting process, and background information relevant to setting goals for sailing.

What the Experts Say

The Sailing Experts:

Paul Goodison - Laser Handbook
"I believe in general that people make their goal setting too complicated and impractical to use and update regularly"

Eric Twiname - Sail, Race and Win
"anyone can use these ideas on their own sailing to produce the maximum amount of improvement for a given amount of time and effort"

Ben Tan - The Complete Introduction to Laser Racing
Goal setting is like creating a clear and detailed map of the race course...If you do not know where the top and gybe marks are, how will you know you are on the right course!

Beggs, Derbyshire & Whitmore - Mental and Physical Fitness for Sailing
"the long job of turning the dream into reality can be helped immeasurably by understanding about goals and learning how to set them for yourself"

Jon Emmett - Be Your Own Sailing Coach
"There is a lot of research to show that most successful people use goal setting"

Merricks and Walker - High Performance Racing

"Goal setting is the foundation upon which all our sailing campaigns are based"

The Non-Sailing Experts:

Dennis Waitley - (as quoted in Brian Tracy's book, Eat That Frog)
"Failures do what is tension relieving, while winners do what is goal achieving."

"Our plans miscarry because they have no aim. When a man does not know what harbour he is making for, no wind is the right wind"

Franklin Roosevelt
"To reach a port, we must sail – Sail, not tie at anchor – sail, not drift."

Videos for Goal Setting

There's not too many videos (at least that we could find) about goal setting for sailors, so here are a couple of videos about the topic from hugely successful people, albeit in different sports.

The whole of this interview is well worth a watch - Dave Brailsford is a fascinating man and he covers a lot of interesting ground on winning in this video. For this topic, though, the most useful stuff is at 27 minutes 30 seconds and on, and he give some good detail about how he approaches goal setting, and uses it to achieve amazing things:

Books with information on Goal Setting for Sailing

The following books have excellent sections on Goal Setting for Sailing:

The relevant page references:

Mental & Physical Fitness for Sailing - Alan Beggs, John Derbyshire & John Whitmore, page 6

Laser Handbook - Paul Goodison, page 130

Be Your Own Sailing Coach - Jon Emmett, page 2

Sail, Race and Win - Eric Twiname, page 12

Complete Introduction to Laser Racing - Ben Tan et al, page 227

High Performance Racing - John Merricks and Ian Walker

Websites and links for Goal Setting for Sailing

The following websites are useful for helping with Goal Setting

Michael Blackburn writes a good article about Goal Setting here

good article on goal setting for sailing

This article talks about the importance of having short- and long-term goals

Some great tips on goal setting from Chris Hoy

An interesting piece on the importance of setting the right goals

This post on sports psychology and sailing has some thoughts on goal-setting

This article on planning practice has a good paragraph on the importance of setting the right type of goals

This blog post has a good description of goal setting for sailing. There is another post, by the same author,  on the advantages of goal-setting here

This is a piece on boat-building, but it has some stuff on goal-setting and managing goals that can be useful

This page is promoting a piece of software to help with managing your goals (www.goalscape.com), but it has some interesting stuff in it...

...and this is a site to which you have to pay a subscription to get the articles, which has a few sailing specific, goal-setting pieces.

What We Learned...

This article aims to give you an overview of the goalsetting process, and to give you access to all the background information relevant to setting goals for sailing. If you don't want to read the background material then there are three things that you need to do in this area that are pretty well essential to improving your sailing:

  1. Set a Dream Goal
  2. Set an Outcome Goal
  3. Set some Process Goals
  4. Commit to analysing your progress and updating your goals

That's it - that's all you need to do. The remaining information is only for those who want to do more in depth goal-setting, want to understand the process a little better or need help going through the goal-setting process.


An Overview of Goalsetting for Sailing

Most modern thinking these days says that goal setting is absolutely crucial for developing your dinghy sailing, and will be a big factor in determining how much you improve and how quickly. There is now a fair amount of material available to help you with your goalsetting, and there are a number of areas to consider when setting goals to improve your sailing performance. However, it is important not to get bogged down in this area, and goal setting can be fun and needn’t be a time-consuming task.

We have a number of tools that will help you set all the different types of goals that will ultimately help you succeed.

The following things are important for goalsetting:

  1. Setting a Dream Goal (Long-Term)
  2. Setting Outcome Goals (Medium-Term)
  3. Setting Performance Goals (Short- to Medium-Term)
  4. Setting Process Goals (Short-Term)
  5. Always setting SMART goals
  6. Understanding what your weaknesses are
  7. Figuring out what things will block your progress and working out how to deal with this
  8. Analysing your progress and updating goals

Each type of goal relates to the others:

  • The Dream Goal is important as it helps define the direction of your training, and will help you to prioritise the areas that need improvement.
  • Outcome Goals are an essential link to the Dream Goal, as they help to breakdown the necessary steps to get from where you are to where you want to be.
  • Performance Goals are measurable activities to help you analyse progress of individual activities that make up good performance.
  • Process Goals are the nitty-gritty, the individual nuts and bolts that, when perfected, make up the perfect performance.

It is worth being aware that as you go down the above list, from Dream Goal to Process Goal, you gradually get more control of the outcome. The higher up on the list, the more you are at the mercy of things that are outside your control (the performance of others, etc.). Click through the links to get more information on each of these Goals.

Remember always that setting goals is a tool designed to help you improve your sailing. If they are becoming a hindrance (constant disappointment, obsessing about the goal rather than the process towards the goal, etc.) then something is wrong with the goal-setting process. Revisit the process and set yourself new goals based on the principles outlined in the What Makes a Good Goal section.

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