5 Steps to Setting Gymnastics Goals -- and Achieving Them

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Write down your dreams, big and small.

Even just writing down your hopes and dreams makes them that much more achievable. If you don't know what you want, it's hard to get it.

It may feel a little scary, or even silly to write down things like, "I want to make the Olympic team" or "I want to get a college scholarship." But your dreams are yours. You don't need to show this list to anyone if you choose not to (though we don't recommend keeping it a secret -- we'll get to that later), so dream big.

What skills do you want to get? What routines would you like to do? What level would you like to reach? What strength and flexibility goals do you have?

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Sort them into short vs. long-term

Now that you've written them down, sort them into rough categories: "this year", "five years from now," and "during my career."  If you'd rather do slightly different timeframes (like, for example, you think you may only compete for three more years), go for it. The trick is to fit them roughly into short, medium, and long-term.

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Now pick one and rewrite it.

Choose one of your goals and look at the language you used.

Is it specific? "Being the best gymnast I can be" is an admirable goal but it's too vague. What level would you like to get to?  Instead of "doing well at regionals" this year, decide what that means to you -- no falls? Making that new skill? "Eating healthier" is a smart goal, but what does that mean to you in terms of how you're eating now?

Is it measurable? This goes hand-in-hand with being specific. Make sure your goal is something that can be measured, so you know when you achieve it! You'll know if you stick all your dismounts or get a new skill.

Is it positive? If you've phrased something in a negative way, like "I don't want to balk on this skill" or "I want to stop bending my knees on my reverse hecht," -- switch the language around. Instead write, "I want to work through my mental block on this skill so I'm going for it again" and "I want to keep my legs straight on my reverse hecht."

Is it something you can control? So much of gymnastics is out of your control: your score, your placement at meets, and even your selection onto teams. You can still dream about winning states and qualifying to J.O. nationals -- definitely do put those as goals. But focus as much as you can on what you actually can control in the sport. And if it's one of those goals that's technically out of your hands and you can't tweak it, just put a little star by it and make sure the process to get there is in your hands.

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Set up your plan.

This is where your coach can really help you out, so, share those goals. Tell your coach that these are your dreams, and you'd like help getting there. Then write out a plan, hopefully together. Focus on the process -- what you can do to get where you want to go.

A few tips:

  • Work on a timeframe for your goal. "I want my new series on high beam by the end of the summer."
  • Work backward from there. If you want it by the end of the summer, when do you need to be able to do it on high beam with mats underneath? When should it be consistent on low beam?
  • Set a small goal for each practice. "Stick five series today, and try 10."
  • Don't forget other things that may be involved in achieving the goal. Maybe increased flexibility will help, or ab strength. And set aside time to visualize what you want as well.
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Now go for it!

Hold yourself accountable by telling others about your goal. You told your coach, now tell your parents. And your teacher. And your dog. Ask them to check in with you.

Reward yourself along the way when you reach small milestones. Got that series on the low beam? Treat yourself that day and celebrate how you're doing.

But also cut yourself some slack. Things can go awry quickly -- maybe you got hurt, or had a stressful week or month. It's OK. Change your timeframes on your goals, if you can. You'll get there. The best gymnasts are always adjusting what they want to achieve based on what's happening at the moment. Don't give up!