The Internet's Official BMX Magazine.
Setting Goals
by Grant Hansen

To achieve success in just about anything, one must practice, train, and be completely dedicated. With BMX, it's pretty obvious that, if you want to get faster, you have to train; if you want to ride better, you have to practice; and both training and practice take dedication. But will training, practicing, and dedication make you better? Probably. But by how much? And how do you measure this success?

To get the most out of your hard work, you need to set goals-specific goals that you will achieve if you put your mind to it. First thing you have to decide: Do you ride just for fun and to hang out? or do you want to take your physical fitness and skill level as far as possible? Let's assume the latter, since it's the harder of the two to achieve.

This month I'm going to concentrate on how to go about setting your goals, and next month we'll talk about setting these specific goals. Knowing how to approach goal setting is half the battle. Follow these simple guidelines so that you can efficiently achieve success:

  • Be positive with your wording. The statement, "Getting through rhythm sections smoothly is important to master if I want to win," is a lot more effective than, "I can't keep screwing up through rhythm sections because I'll get beat."
  • Prioritize. If you need to get into better shape more than you need to learn to jump, put that at the top of your list.
  • Speaking of lists, write down your goals and post them where you'll see them first thing in the morning. By writing down your goals, it makes them concrete and you'll think them more possible to attain.
  • Elaborate your goals list. A recent article in Muscle Media magazine suggests that writing down the tasks you have to perform to achieve each goal is a great way to help motivate you… And I want to take that one step further…After you do that, write down what each exercise will accomplish if done correctly and religiously. This may sound redundant, but it's a great tool for understanding what it is you're setting out to do.
  • Judge your success based on performance rather than results. For example, "My goal is to take 2 seconds off my lap time" is healthier than, "My goal is to win the Grands." I'm not saying that if you train hard enough and practice that you won't win the Grands…these are essential in attaining such a win, but anything can happen. You may get a flat tire, a bad gate, or someone just may be better than you on that day. So measure your performance based on self-improvement, not how you do compared to the other 7 racers on the gate.
  • Make sure the goals you set can be attained! If you set your sights too high, you may never reach them. No one is going to be a AA Pro after just one year of riding a bike. And don't set your sights too low either, since you do want to push yourself. Try to find the hardest attainable goal and work your butt off to achieve it.

What goals should you set? Well, I can't decide these for you, but below are my goals for the 1999 season. Notice my wording: It is positive and to the point. The goals I chose for myself are attainable and CAN BE ACCOMPLISHED it I follow my own rules.

GOAL #1: To become as fast as I possibly can. To achieve this goal I will have to do a combination of sprints and strength training for my legs. Sprints will develop my fast-twitch muscles to make me faster, and strength training will give me more power to snap and accelerate.

GOAL #2: To learn to manual better. I understand that, not only do I need to be fast, but I need to be smooth too. To get better at manuals, I need to practice at least a half-hour every other day on flat ground. Then, when I get better, practice through rhythm sections. By mastering the manual, I will cut my lap times by a few seconds which will help me to win more races.

GOAL #3: To learn to jump bigger. After some injuries, I've been timid to "go big." In order to get better, I need to build trails, and gradually make the jumps bigger and bigger so eventually, few jumps will be "too big." By learning to get more air, I will get around the track faster with less pedaling, and increase my confidence.

GOAL #4: To have fun.

Take notice to my last goal. Since I race, I need to be fast to win. Winning is very important to me and it's what gives me my drive to train hard. But since I train so often and so intensely, I sometimes forget why I ride a bike-to have fun! After the Gold Cup finals last year, I was burned out. I needed a break. I worked so hard that my body and mind had had enough for a while. So I realize I sometimes just need to relax and ride not to train, but ride to have fun.

To set your own goals, evaluate yourself, why you ride, and what you want to accomplish. Make a list of these things, then evaluate some more. Which of these things have you mastered? Which need work the most? Now you're on your way. And remember, wording is very important. "To win the Grands," is not a healthy goal. "To train and practice hard enough so that I have the best chance I can possibly have at doing well at the races," is much better.

Copyright 1999. All rights reserved.