The Goal

The Goal

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Goal Setting Part 4 - You've planned the work, now work the plan

Project management is based around five key questions*, the last of which is "How do you know you're making progress?" It can be a surprisingly difficult question to answer at times as it relies on objective measures of progress. In shooting it is reasonably straightforward to measure your performance; although it can take a long time to be sure (see my previous post on SCATT & statistics.) You work hard and with a bit of good luck** you will hit your outcome goals.

The problem here is that you may only have one outcome goal per year, or potentially even an outcome goal that will take several years to reach. How do you know you're making progress towards it?

This is where all that faff with process and performance goals comes into its own.

Keep a training diary
If you intend to be serious about your shooting in any meaningful way, keep a diary of what training you have planned versus what you have actually done. It doesn't necessarily need to be fancy, long or incredibly detailed; a simple list of dates, types, volumes of training and scores is perfectly adequate.
I keep mine in a spreadsheet which sits on the desktop of my laptop. I also keep my calendar of events in the same spreadsheet*** so I open it every day and am constantly reminded of the need to train. You might want to keep your plan and diary in a form that you will be forced to see every day; e.g. print it out and stick it on the fridge, or on the wall next to the bathroom mirror.

Analyse your performance
Approximately every month, go back and review what you actually did against the training you had planned. Look at the groups you're getting in livefire and SCATT, and the scores you're getting on paper. Answer as honestly as you can the question "are they improving rapidly enough to hit my outcome goal on time?****"

If you're not making the planned progress, you're over-training, under-training or doing the wrong kind of training. In running over-training is very common, but I suspect that under-training is going to be more common in shooters, given the general lack of serious attention training gets. I also suspect that doing the wrong kind of training, or mechanistically training without appropriate thought I suspect is also going to be relatively common.

At this point, I should probably note that in my experience improvement has come in fits and starts, with the larger gains driven by a positive change in my technique which I have then driven home with a large volume of repetition. Don't expect a linear progression towards your goal!

In pretty much all of the above circumstances, you're going to need to...

Modify the plan
In the short term, most modifications of planning will be tweaking what you're already doing: increasing the volume of some aspects of your training, reducing others. Some of the will need to be intuition-based but you should be able to run some experiments to see what works for you and enables you to maintain a high standard of performance, and/or drives improvement.

In the longer term, you're going to need to shock the system and introduce new elements to avoid getting stale. Doing the same exercises again and again is likely to get boring and will lead to stagnation in performance, so mix it up a little and try something different.

Good luck and enjoy your training!

* The five questions are: 1) Where are we going? 2) How will we get there? 3) Do we have enough money, time and other resources to get there? 4) What's going to get in our way? And 5) How do we know we're making progress?
** You don't have full control over your outcome goals, remember? But Arnold Palmer allegedly said that the more he practiced the luckier he got. You might want to think about that.
*** Yes, really. I have a very complex and busy life. Without my spreadsheet I would be lost.
**** All goals should be time-based, remember?

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