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How to set SMART basketball goals

15 Feb 2024

Setting goals is important to your basketball success. However, basketball goals (and any goals in general) need to be SMART. That is, goals need to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely.

Every new year brings a fresh opportunity to set new goals. The SMART approach ensures you’ve defined your goals clearly and they’re achievable.

To be clear, a dream is the ultimate, significant goal. However, to reach that dream, all athletes need to set up smaller, SMART goals as milestones along the way. These mini goals are stepping-stones guiding athletes closer to their ultimate dream.

Now, breaking it down, let's start with the "S" in SMART.


Your basketball goals should be specific, clear, and linked to a meaningful outcome.

For example, saying "I want to become a better player" is too vague.

Instead, consider how you can become a better player. Whether it's getting stronger, improving your weaker hand, becoming a more consistent shooter, or enhancing your defence.

Setting specific goals allow the athlete to focus on drills and activities to help achieve the goal.


It’s not enough just to be specific. Your basketball goals also need to be measurable.

For example, if an athlete decides they want to become a more consistent/better shooter, they should say, “I want to make 50 two-pointers this season” or “I want to hit 10 two-pointers consecutively in training.”

Adding a measurable allows the athlete to see progress and results.

If you have no way to measure a goal, it's tough to know when you've met it.



Goals need to be achievable. Aiming for a 100% free throw percentage is unrealistic.

It's important to progress gradually and tailor the goal to the athlete's skill level.

For example, aiming to increase the free throw percentage from 25% to 35% is an achievable goal.

Remember, SMART goals are practical objectives, they should be doable in the short to medium term.


Set goals that provide self-motivation and positively influence your performance.

Things to consider:

  • Is this goal essential for improving your game?

  • Are you excited about achieving this goal?

Remember, setting goals just for the sake of it isn't beneficial. Each goal should serve a purpose; otherwise, it may be challenging to keep focus.


Goals should have a set timeline to enhance the likelihood of completion.

Without a set timeframe, goals are prone to being neglected. By setting a start and end date, you create a sense of urgency to achieve them.

For instance, consider our free throw percentage situation: a time-bound goal would be, "Increase free throw percentage from 25% to 35% within 90 days."

Things to consider:

  • Is the goal manageable now or better suited for later?

  • Is the timeframe realistic for the goal at hand?

Work hard

Establishing SMART goals can help you set achievable milestones without feeling overwhelmed or disheartened.

Commit to your plan, put in the effort, and chase your goals!

Don't hesitate to adjust your goal if it feels too easy or too difficult. And always remember, ask for help if you are not seeing results, we are here to help!

As we look toward the new year, we leave you with our favourite quote from Michael Jordan: 

“I’m a firm believer in goal setting. Step by step. I can’t see any other way of accomplishing anything.”


Avoid over setting

When guiding young athletes to set up goals, remember that goals should empower, not to guilt-trip when changed or stopped.

According to Max Bazerman, author of Goals Gone Wild: The Systematic Side Effects of Overprescribing Goal Setting. Bazerman recommends to carefully examine whether proposed goals will inadvertently create any pitfalls such as unhealthy competition, decreased cooperation, or higher risk taking amongst members of the team.

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