Setting baseball goals gives you benchmarks to reach for each season
As the new year approaches, it’s time to set a course for your next season. You may be making plans for tournaments to play in or looking for a league to join. Maybe you are pulling out your equipment bag to oil up your glove or are thinking about getting a new bat. The beginning of the new season usually involves a lot of planning. But to have a more productive 2023 season, you should set aside the time to establish your baseball goals for the year.
Recently, the BTOP facebook group had a discussion on goals for the new year and it got me thinking about how important it is to set targets for yourself. Group members had a wide range of personal goals that hit on almost every part of the game. It was a good exercise in seeing where others hope to be by the end of the year. It added extra inspiration for this article.
Setting a variety of goals will give you a very real target to strive for. Some might be performance goals. Others might be training related or skills development. There are on the field and off the field goals. Establishing both broad and specific goals helps to measure your progress towards your pursuits.
plans vs goals
Goals and plans go hand and hand, but they are not the same. Setting a goal is like setting a destination. Your plan is like charting your course to reach that place. If you plan a road trip without a destination you’ll drive around endlessly, never reaching anywhere in particular. If you have a destination but no plan on how to get there, chances are you’ll take a lot of wrong turns along the way and never reach where you are trying to go.
A goal is something specific, measurable by some standard and achievable. You might set a goal of hitting 1.000 over the course of the season. That is specific, measurable and theoretically achievable.
But that example comes up a bit short. While it’s achievable, it’s not very realistic. Batting 1.000 is technically achievable but practically impossible. With so many variables in hitting, setting a goal for a perfect batting average over the course of the season falls more under the category of a hope than a goal. Why?
There is really no plausible plan that can lead you to a perfect batting average. No matter how much coaching, training and practice you put in, there are still too many variables outside of your control. Over the course of a season, it takes only one out to render that goal unacheivable. And unattainable goals have a way of discouraging us.
A better but related goal might be to improve your batting average by .100 points over last year. That is specific, measurable, achievable and realistic. You can develop a plan to make it happen. It gives you an objective to reach for throughout the season. It’s possible you may not reach it by year’s end, but it is something that is within your reach.
Goldilocks baseball goals
When you set goals that are plainly out of reach or unrealistic, you are more likely to give up on them. If you set your sights on a perfect batting average, it won’t take long before the possibility of achieving it evaporates. You are setting yourself up for failure.
On the flip side, if you set your sights too low, those goals might be too easy to achieve and you are taking away incentives to improve. It’s not much different for setting a game on easy mode. It’s fun to hit those goals easily at first, but over time it gets boring and you stop having a reason to improve your skills.
Between the two extremes, you can find the right balance. When setting your goals, choose those that will be tough and challenging, but have a clear path to be able to achieve them. The purpose of setting your objective is to give yourself something to work towards accomplishing. Make it something worthwhile that will improve your overall performance and help your team win.
not all goals are the same
Not every goal is going to be the same. Some will carry more weight and have more satisfaction if the challenge is met. For example, it’s satisfying to get a hit in a game. But to go 4-4 in a game is a different feeling of achievement. You can have both the goal to get a hit in a game and to get a hit in every at bat at the same time. In fact having different layers of objectives is important to keep you motivated.
Goals can fall under different categories as well. You set team goals that you share with the rest of the players in the dugout. Season long objectives will keep you reaching to achieve them over the year. In-game targets will have you focusing each time you arrive at the field.
Even in the offseason, it’s good to set targets for training and recovery. Setting goals isn’t complicated or difficult. But doing so will help to give a focus to your game and a way for you to compare and track your progess.
It should go without saying that every team should have the goal to win each time they play. Other team goals might be making the playoffs, having good attendance at practices and games and seeing a general improvement in overall play from members over the course of the season.
To get there, the manager needs a plan of action. Player recruitment, practice plans, player development, game strategies and building team cohesiveness are all necessary for team success. But the manager can’t do it alone. They need their players to step up and do what is necessary for the team to succeed.
Getting the rest of the dugout to buy in is important. A team performs best when each member is working toward the same goal together instead of just individually.
As a player, those team goals matter and your personal standards should aimed toward helping the team achieve them. You can check this article out to learn ways to be a good teammate.
Going into the season, it’s good to have both general and specific goals to reach for.
Last year, I set general goals of avoiding injury, being more aggressive at the plate and to have fewer errors on defense than the year before. Overall, I achieved those goals to varying degrees.
More targeted goals had me aiming for a .400 batting avg, to strike out less than 10% of the time and to get at least one hit in every game of the league season.
At season’s end, I had a .350 batting avg, had an 8% K rate (only 6 strikeouts in 16 games) and I only had one game that I didn’t hit safely in.
While I came up short in two out of three of these, there was still a lot of success in pursuing them. My batting avg increased 40 points from the previous season. My strikeout rate went down 4% and I only had 1 hitless game out of 16 (only kept stats for my league games).
The goals I set were achievable and reasonable, but difficult. I had to work hard alI year trying to achieve them. And my overall game was better for it.
That’s how setting goals is supposed to work
individual game goals
Everytime you step on the field you should be reaching for an achievement. It might be to have a flawless game defensively. Or to have quality at bats every time you come to the plate. Maybe it’s to go the whole nine innings on the mound.
Your individual goals are just that…yours. Once you have your target set, you game plan. You don’t get where you want to go just by wishing it. Watch the pitcher while you are in the on deck circle. Be prepared on every pitch. Make sure you and your teammates are on the same page.
Every race has a finish line. Set yours before the game even starts.
off the field baseball goals
As much as we might desire to being gamers, most of the work to acheive our dream is done, not in the game, but in practice and other training.
Just like in games, you should have goals and plans to acheive them before you even start training. A lot of valuable time can get wasted when you are just going through the motions. Training, whether it’s strength, conditioning or skills training, will be more effective if you set goals to strive for. Once you plan out your strategy to acheive them, you’ll have a path to success. Making a plan beforehand will give you an easy way to gauge your progress and stay accountable.
Any time we are taking the time to train, we need to push ourselves for long term improvement. Just like with season vs game goals, set long term and short term offseason goals.
Some times it may go beyond training, too. You may set a goal to heal or rehab from an injury. Or try to rekindle your love for the game if it’s been faltering. These are just as important as game and training objectives. Having your body and mind right are key components to on field success. Treat them that way. Map out your journey to reach you potential.
Write down What you want to acheive
Writing things down has a way of helping us organize our thoughts. It’s why we make grocery lists or even batting orders. When writing it down, it helps to reinforce the thoughts into memories. It also gives us a physical tool that we can go to as a reminder of where we want to go.
Writing down a goal sheet doesn’t have to be complicated, long or super detailed. Sometimes its just a piece of notebook paper where you jot down the things you most want to acheive. You can even open up the notepad on your phone or computer and list it down there.
Your goal sheet is yours. You can share it with others to get their feedback and to help you stay accountable. Or you can put it away and pull it out from time to time when you need a little extra motivation and guidance.
A good way to make a goal list is to divide it into season, game, and off the field sections. Or add any sections that will help you stay focused. Write down the goal, then add notes for things you can do to get there. Below is an example.
example goal list
Have fewer strikeouts than last year
- Work on pitch recognition in batting practice
- Work on swing timing
Increase on base percentage
- work on pitch recognition
- be more selective of what I swing at
Be better at my position
- put in extra time on positional skills
Make no errors defensively
- be prepared before every pitch
- stay calm
Have quality at bats
- be patient on pitch selection
- be aggressive when deciding to swing
- check with coach for situational plays
Off the field
Build leg strength
- do more sprints
- do heavy leg workouts
- talk to trainer to get a program
Hit for more power
- Lift more
- talk with coach to create a plan
- see physical therapist
This is just a genaric list, but it gives you an idea of how simple it is to set your targets and a brief path for you to take to acheive them.
So what are your baseball goals for the coming season?
It won’t be long before the new baseball season arrives. It’s time to start hitting the ground running.
Are you prepared to be the best player you can be to help your team win? Start setting your baseball goals and putting in the work to reach them. Your team will be counting on you, and it’s your responsibility to be prepared.
Figure out what you want most out of your game this year and get to work making it happen.
I’d love to hear what your goals are for the 2023 season. Let me know what they are in the comments section.
Every day on the field is a good day