Setting goals is critical to improving your performance in any game that you play. You’ve probably heard that before. In fact, goal setting is critical to improving any thing that you do. To me, it’s the act of taking aim on a target. Like playing darts. You may not always hit the bull’s-eye, but you’re giving yourself the best chance to. You can see the target, gauge your distance, and make adjustments based on where you hit. You’re leading yourself to your desired target.
Without setting goals it’s like spinning around, closing your eyes, and then throwing the dart. You may get close to your target, you might even hit the bull’s-eye once. But performance is about replication and consistency. Every time you reach one of your goals you create a milestone. By choosing the objective, reaching it and then confirming that you have, you develop the ability to move on to the next goal. This allows your brain to confidently replicate the previous objective with less effort and opens the brain to learning new concepts.
I am going to explain how set goals using the S.M.A.R.T template and how it can translate to your gaming experience.
The tricky part about setting goals is how broad you can be. It’s very easy to say things like, “I want to play better.” or “I want to win more.”. Statements like that don’t really display a strategy that you can follow. Effective goal setting requires you to boil the objective down to things that are actionable. Lets use League of Legends as an example, “I want to win more.”. Okay, well what do you need to win more? “I need to get my items faster.” I get items from gold, gold from killing minions effectively.” How is my creep score in comparison to people in higher ranks?” Maybe now the decision is to practice killing minions. If that’s the area in which you need to improve, then simply improving that will take you up a level.
Seeing Through the Fog
This is where the S.M.A.R.T template comes in.
Every effective goal should attempt to follow these qualifications.
Let’s take the example from above and demonstrate the difference between a broad goal, and a S.M.A.R.T goal.
Broad Goal – I want to win more. (Even if it’s not spoken out loud, it’s the core reason why we play.)
Specific – I want to go from Silver rank to Gold rank within the next 30 days
Measurable – I will improve my rank by 1 or more tier each week.
Achievable – I will analyze my current game play and reference it to others to identify my opportunities and improve my performance.
Realistic – Based on the statistics of players in Gold rank, the requirement to advance is a 55% win to loss ratio.
Time-Bound – The average game takes 45 minutes to play and I have 4 hours a day to commit to playing and analyzing.
Within the next 30 days, I will advance my rank from Silver to Gold. This will validate my skill level and improve my chances of competing at a higher level. I will do this by actively analyzing my game play and making adjustments when I see an opportunity. I will on average improve 1 tier a week and dedicate 4 hours a day to this pursuit.
Summarizing your goal like that commits you to your plan. You will still have to discover what specific areas you need to work on, but that discovery process is what leads to improvement. Maybe it is creep score, maybe it’s positioning, maybe it’s itemization. The possibilities are limitless but trapped behind a fog unless you create a strategy oriented goal that you can effectively follow.
Benchmarks and Opportunities
One of the main requirements you must meet to set an effective goal is to be honest with yourself. This can often be done by recognizing and accepting your current skill level. This isn’t always the easiest considering many factors can effect how we perform on any given day. However, you still need to be clear with yourself. It’s okay to believe that you are better and can be better, because you can! However, if you over estimate yourself, it will create blind spots.
The best way to do this is to simply look at your statistics. If you are at a sub 50% win rate, and you’re stuck in a bracket, then that’s your current skill level. Even if you don’t believe it is. If it isn’t you will quickly prove it to yourself. Play to your opportunities, whatever they may be and you will find yourself climbing quickly.
Once you accurately assess where you are, it becomes much easier to identify your opportunities. This will then lead to creating sub goals that lead you to accomplishing your S.M.A.R.T goal.
Using myself as an example (A Sub Goal)
At one point in my life I was a top Smash 4 player in my region. As time went by I fell off and was unable to keep up with the game, but worse I was unwilling to adapt. When Super Smash Bros. Ultimate came out, I committed to coming back to the game with a fresh mind and have done that thus far.
At my first tournament I placed 13th, and after my second loss I sought feedback from one of the current top players. His feedback revolved around how long it was taking for me to secure a kill. I took that feedback and set a goal for my next tournament. I set the goal to move my placement up one slot to 9th. Using the feedback given to me, I created a plan.
My plan was to play 3 games, record them and analyze afterwards. The goal was to secure a kill 20% lower than the threshold required for the move I was killing with at the tournament, and to not use that move. Win or lose. While watching these replays, I saw a lot of opportunity not just in the area I was focusing on, but others as well. I recorded that information and played another 3 matches with the intention of applying what I learned.
Through my goal setting, and discovery I was able to create not only an in the moment practice regiment, but I was able to see immediate growth. The next tournament I attended, I reached my goal of 9th, and was able to press my advantage.
If you found this useful and would like to create your own S.M.A.R.T goal and receive feedback/advice then fill the form out below and hit SUBMIT!