Goal oriented versus Process oriented training – which type of athlete are you?


A guest post from the Association of Rowing Coaches of South Africa

What is a goal-oriented athlete like?

Goal oriented athletes

Simplistically, goal oriented athletes see their results in competition as the be-all, end-all of their training endeavors. This is also true of training. If they don’t win, or set a PR, or perform exceptionally all the time, they will see themselves as a failure. So on competition day, they have to win, or set a personal best, or set a record, or all of those. In the gym, if they aren’t beating their previous bests every damn time they train, they feel like a total failure.

God forbid they have a really bad workout; clearly they are worthless human beings and should be destroyed. Yes, fine, I’m being a touch hyperbolic but I’ve known athletes like this. Hell, I knew one would go out, set a personal record and still be miserable about his performance.

Another way of looking at being goal oriented is that not only is the competitive outcome all that matters, it ends up defining the athlete’s self-worth. Win and the athlete is a winner, lose and he/she is a loser. And since nobody can win all the time….

What is a process oriented athlete like?

Process oriented athletes

In some contrast, process oriented athletes, as the name suggests focus on the process. The process of training, the process of competition. Every competition can be analyzed for strengths and weaknesses so that the process of training can then be modified to fix it in the future. The same goes with training, which is simply part of the larger process of competition.

If the right things are done in training, the process will be met and the results will come. I should make it clear that a process oriented athlete is still concerned with the outcome of training and competition, simply that the outcome is not the be-all, end-all of how success is judged or not. A workout that went poorly might still be judged a success if something related to technique was improved, or they learned something about how they respond to training that lets them adjust their future training. Hopefully you get the idea.

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