Goal Mapping – Making Your Dreams Real


Goal Mapping

                This exercise will clarify our dreams and how we want to achieve them. Champions know where they are going and plan how they are going to get there. Goal mapping is one of the most effective mental tools that we can practice.





Steps in Goals Mapping (Adapted from Cohn, 2014):

  1. Set long-term or season-long goal (based on current game)
  2. Assess where you are today – look at stats and performance
  3. Identify areas or stats to improve (or performance objectives)
  4. Set smart goals (see guidelines for goal mapping)
  5. Decide on goal-achievement/practice strategies to accomplish goals
  6. Monitor, evaluate, & modify


Goals can be set for:

  1. Outcome (wins, top tens, championships, etc.)
  2. Performance (performance statistics)
  3. Practice (specific drills or practice outcomes)
  4. Process – Mental (commit to 95% of shots)
  5. Tactical (game plan, course strategies, etc.)


Guidelines for Setting Smart Goals:

  1. Set specific instead of general goals
  2. Set goals that can be measured with targets dates for attainment
  3. Set positively stated goals instead of avoidance goals
  4. Do not turn goals into expectations
  5. Be careful not to set too many daily goals
  6. Use goals to focus attention on what’s important or relevant
  7. Use goals for practice and competition


                Read the following on the different types of goals and then follow the instructions developing your goal map.  (Adapted from Vealey, 2004)

“We are not born with maps; we have to make them, and the making requires effort. The more effort we make…, the larger and more accurate our maps will be. But many do not want to make this effort. Their maps are small and sketchy, their views of the world narrow and misleading.”                                                

Scott Peck in The Road Less Traveled


Goals are accomplishments we strive to achieve. Goals affect our behavior by directing our attention to relevant things, increasing our effort and persistence, and motivating the development of new strategies. Instead of looking at this process as setting goals, look at it as creating a map. By referring to our goal process as mapping (Vealey, 2004) rather than setting goals, we avoid just the action of setting goals, which gets us nowhere. See the process as goal mapping, which activates all of our effort into a plan that involves thinking, feeling and acting to reach our destination. A map charts a course through hills, mountains, over rivers, over passes, through congestion. A map takes into consideration road blockage and plans for detours. Goal mapping is a systematic approach to acting and thinking in purposeful ways to achieve our accomplishments. Goal mapping enhances focus, establishes standards, changes problems into positive action and helps manage emotions.

Work on the following exercises in building your goal map for the season.

Directions: Goal-Mapping Exercise

Draw a golf hole, a road map, or a staircase. The basic idea of goal mapping  is to build a series of short term goals from the bottom of the start of the hole or the  bottom step and move through a series of short term, then long term goals to the top level, your dream or passion.

There are different types of goals. The top goal is our passion, the dream that we want to accomplish. This is called an outcome goal like winning the conference championship or scoring ten goals or pinning an opponent or passing a test. The next type of goal relates to how we will achieve our dream and is a performance goal. The goals in this area are related to our performance like hitting a certain number of fairways each round, or shots on goal, or takedowns per match, or misses on a test. These are areas where you can keep track of your statistics during the season. The third type of goal is a process goal. This type of goal is based on controllable thoughts and actions in terms of how you execute your performance like working on the tempo of your swing, changing negative thoughts to positive thoughts when playing or improving your focus during a match.  Spend some time building your series of goals, both process and performance based, on what it will take to reach your longer term goals and the final dream.

Once you have set these goals, write down the strategies you will use to reach each level of your pyramid or rest point on your trip. Each step along the way needs to be evaluated, revised if necessary and adjusted based on the situations that come up.

Your plan needs to flexible, you must be able to detour around trouble and find your path again. Your goals should follow the acronym, S-M-A-R-T: Specific, Measurable, Aggressive yet Achievable, Relevant, and Time bound (Vealey, 2004).

An example of a performance goal and a drill that you can adopt: Using tees, create a four foot circle around the hole on a green. Have your player take 25 balls and see how many he can chip into the circle from 25 feet on the edge of the green.

Count how many he gets in the circle, multiply by four to get his percentage. Let’s say that he gets 15 out of 25 in the circle, 15 times 4 is 60%. His performance goal could be to reach 90% by the end of the first month of practice. This goal is specific, it can be measured, it’s aggressive, but achievable, it’s certainly relevant to a long term goal and it is time bound because he has given himself a month to do it.

You can expand this drill to different lengths with different clubs and create a master goal map for improving the short game. Make sure that there are evaluation times set up for each week or month, whatever is needed to stick to your map.

You can devise different drills and activities that involve all of the different aspects of the game: driving, punch shots, trouble shots, wedge play, mid-iron, etc. The use of goals will make practice and matches challenging for the players. Once you set some drills up, be sure to ask the players to contribute or even design a practice session based on these drills and tied to their goals. Have team meetings, so that you involve each and every player with the goals of the team and individual goals. The overall goal of the team may be for each player to realize a dream and may have nothing to do with how many matches the team wins. You can fit your goals to any type of team. Also, have the players set goals for practicing their mental training drills such as focus and imagery. In your team meetings, educate them on the value of combining both mental and swing training in practice sessions. This is a golf example, but you can apply this to any sport or performance that you are doing.



(Adapted from Janssen, 1996)

Write out three and then decide which one you can commit to:

My Dream (Where I want to go with my game) is:


Outcome-Performance-Focus Goals

(Adapted from Janssen, 1996)

Write the goals you would like to reach. These goals are steps on the way to accomplishing your dream.

Outcome Goal: My goals for this year are:


Performance Goals: My goals in terms of performance are:


Focus Goals: My goals in terms of my mental skills are:




(Adapted from Janssen, 1996)

Write down answers to the following questions before you develop your strategies for reaching your goals:

  1. What thoughts and actions help me to move down my goal road?


  1. What thoughts and actions help me to relax and stay centered?


  1. What thoughts and actions can I stop doing because they hinder my goal map?


  1. Where are you today? What are your statistics? Scoring average?


  1. How will you reach your long-term goals?

Intermediate Goals (6 months):

Short-Term Goals (3 months):

Process Goals (today/this week):



(Adapted from Janssen, 1996)

Write down your strategies for reaching your goals. This would entail asking yourself what can I do today to move further down the road toward my goals?

This gives you an example of one of the main areas we work on with our athletes to improve their performance. Goal mapping is a very effective tool for change — changing our thinking, changing our self-image, and changing our game to be the best that we can be. Call today and start actively pursuing your dream.