Sports Mastery



Do. Or do not. There is no try. - YODA, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK

It turns out that "JUST DO IT" is pretty shitty advice. It might make for a good marketing tag line and it's certainly one of the most commonly shrieked instructions from exasperated coaches, parents, and teachers, but the scientific reality is that this call to action is almost always ineffective. In fact, some evidence suggests that it can actually undermine motivation, confidence, and enjoyment. The sentiment behind just do it is perfectly well intentioned - stop overthinking it, stop talking about it, stop procrastinating, and stop forcing me to keep asking you to take action.

We must turn our thoughts, ideas, and goals into action.

A goal: An aim or action usually with a specific time limit. So having a specific timeline is important for goal setting.

SMART goal (Specific, Measureable, Achievable/Adjustable, Realistic, Time (time-dependent))

Why athletes benefit from setting goals:

Increase performance – goals give focus and directs efforts. Performance can increase when goals have been set

Increase positive thoughts – athlete sees himself make progress towards a goal, he/she is likey to have positive reactions

Increase confidence – as challenging and realistic goals are completed, helps create stronger beliefs that the athlete/performer can cont to move forward

Types of goals in sport psychology:

Outcome goals: goals related to the desired result of a competition (i.e., winning the game)
Athlete has not control over this

Performance goal: refers to athletes performance in relation to previous performance (i.e., improving free-throw shot from 70% to 80%Athlete has more so control over this

Process goals: how an athlete performs a particular skill. These goals usually focus on practice or training (i.e., a batter keeping his eye on the ball) Under athletes control

So basically it’s important for athletes to essentially focus on process and performance goals because these are under their control. Ultimately focusing on these goals gets them to the outcome goal.
The brave athlete
Saying just do it is pretty silly advice or as the Brave Athlete books states, in ch. 4 “Setting goals is not your problem,” it’s pretty shitty advice.

The just do it can be a challenge and can undermine motivation.
Most things in life, it’s easy to know what to do but to actually do it is the hard part!

The best way to mobilize the what, how, and do is goal setting!
Most folks have an understanding of the important of goal setting – given that we are all human and carry a brain we are wired to be goal oriented. For example, our brain naturally gives us basic goals to accomplish like stay alive, eat, sleep.


Cheadle, C. (2017). Week 4 goal setting [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from Lecture Notes Online Website:

Marshall, J. S., & Paterson, L. (2017). The Brave Athlete: Calm the f*ck down and rise to the occasion. Boulder, CO: Velopress.

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