Geoff Miller

Archive for November, 2009|Monthly archive page

Setting Goals: Mental Skills Manual Part IV

In Tips for Improving Performance on November 30, 2009 at 7:32 pm


Know what you want

The Mental Skills Manual is meant to teach players how to answer the following:

1. Know who you are

2. Know what you want

3. Know what to do when you don’t get what you want

4. Know what to do in the meantime before you’ve mastered these concepts.

Step two involves helping you understand what you want and why you want it.  Of course everyone wants to get to the big leagues and of course everyone wants to win 20 games or hit .300, but there is something deeper and more meaningful behind those aspirations.  This section is not about traditional goal-setting, although it will describe differences between process and outcome-oriented goals and will explain how to set simple, measurable goals that can be 100% controlled.  The section is about gaining clarity on what you want and letting go of a limiting factor in achieving success… the need to know HOW instead of just knowing WHAT.

Key ideas:

  1. What do you want?
  2. Letting go.
  3. What is the first thing you need to do in order to ultimately achieve this?

Today, my post is only focused on the “what do you want” part of this equation.  I’ll follow up soon with letting go and taking first steps toward achieving your goals.

What do you want?

When you set a goal, you are recognizing that you want something and making a decision that you’re going to get it.

With so many statistics driving the culture of baseball, it is easy for players to set a number in a statistical category as a goal.  Players at all levels set goals to hit .300, collect 200 hits, hit 30 home runs, win 15 games, strike out 200 hitters, and on and on.  And when young players become professionals, their measurement scales are usually way off.  For example, high school hitters who have hit over .500 their entire careers expect that hitting .300 will be a breeze.

Traditional approaches warn against setting goals that are too lofty and guide the athlete to set measurable and attainable goals based on a process, not an outcome.

Process vs. Outcome Goals

Process goal: Is achieved by measuring HOW you execute your skills.  Process goals help players stay focused on the little things they need to do in order to get the results that they want.  They are 100% controllable.


  • Take a deep breath before every throw playing catch.
  • Get a good first step on ground balls to my right.
  • Improve my two-strike approach.

Outcome goal: Is achieved when a desired result is recorded.  Outcome goals give players objects of motivation upon which they can focus their efforts.  They are typically not 100% controllable.


  • Hit .300 with 20 HR and 85 RBI.
  • Be named to the All-Star team.
  • Sign a long-term contract.
  • Win the World Series.

There is a place for this approach, but it should be in support of what you really want, not what you think you can get.  How will you know how good you can really be or how far you could actually go if you don’t aspire to want the very best for yourself?

Every player should set the loftiest, dreamy goal he can imagine and let that become the “outcome” that he wants to achieve.  Then he should set specific “process” goals that he can focus on day in and day out that will get him closer to his outcome.

This strategy can work to help people maximize their potential ONLY if they apply both the process and outcome goals together.  Process goals without outcome goals will result in ordinary results.  Outcome goals without process goals are nothing but empty promises.

To be continued very soon…

Click Here for Part I of the Manual, which offers an Introduction.

Click Here for Part II of the Manual, which begins the unit on self-knowledge.

Click Here for Part III of the Manual, which discusses Comfort Zones, Confidence, and Keeping it Simple.

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Geoff Miller’s book, Intangibles: Big-League Stories and Strategies for Winning the Mental Game — in Baseball and in Life, was released in August, 2012. For more information and free sample chapters, please visit:

For more information, please contact Geoff Miller at

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