Similarly, the coach should have ambitious goals for the team to achieve, which may extend beyond the time when the coach is with the team (e.g. a coach of a junior team may have a goal that the players all progress to the club’s senior squad).

A limiting factor in regards to ambitious goals is that they may seem unattainable or players may get discouraged when they do not achieve them – in either event, the player is unlikely to continue to strive toward reaching that objective.

The coach therefore should help the athlete to “break down” the larger (or longer-term) goal into a series of smaller (or shorter-term) goals that are important to ultimately achieving the larger goal.

These smaller (or shorter term) goals have the advantage of:

  • providing a mechanism to measure progress toward the ultimate goal – this enables the player to experience success as they achieve each goal, which both rewards effort made to date and can motivate the athlete to continue working toward the next goal (and the ultimate goal);
  • helping the athlete cope with disappointments (e.g. non selection to a team);
  • enabling the athlete to realise when they reach the point where the ultimate goal may be out of reach but to still have a sense of success for what they achieved along the way;
  • allowing the athlete to reassess their ambitious goals (e.g. a player that aspires to play at the Olympics may realise that is unlikely and then work toward becoming a coach or of cial).

There are situations where short-term goals may be contrary to long-term goals, and for coaches these are most likely to occur in regards to team selection and substitution patterns and style of play.

In considering players for selection, a coach will often be presented with a situation where one player may make an immediate impact upon the team, and another has greater potential in the long term but would have little impact immediately. This can happen with senior teams (choosing between “veterans” and “rookies”) but is perhaps more commonplace with junior teams.

The decision a coach makes will depend upon both their own philosophy and that of the club. With junior athletes, coaches should certainly consider that “single measures or judgments about someone’s athletic potential, especially before puberty, are likely to be in uenced by factors such as physical maturity that could change over time”.1 Players that physically mature earlier (and are taller or stronger) than their teammates at the ages of 10-12 may not have that advantage a few years later and are often not the players that progress the most.

With young players, coaches should be as inclusive as possible and should encourage clubs to have other programs available for players that are not selected to teams.

The other decision where there may be a con ict for the coach between short and long term goals is in how a team plays. With young players (ages 10-14), some coaches make the mistake of focussing on structured play and early on this may lead to games being won. However, without a good understanding and development of individual skills and basic team concepts, these players (and teams) often do not experience success as they get older.

Coaches of young teams should forsake the goal of winning in the short term and instead concentrate on the development of players so that they are better equipped for winning later in their teen years. The coach’s focus must be on success, which is measured in terms of development rather than simply games won.