Base Level


Theme from a past year for the Centura track team.

As a track coach I had my athletes set goals before every meet. There were three levels. Great, Good, and OK. Their goals could be a time, distance, or even a specific aspect like not hitting any hurdles. When considering their goals, the athletes had to think about how the week of practice went, how they had performed in past meets, how their health was at the moment, and other life issues that could affect their performance.

Next step was to set their expectations and write out their goals at the three levels mentioned above.


This goal was to be set at a realistic level, but also knowing that it would take a high level of performance to achieve. Everything would have to go right for them to achieve it.


This was the performance they should expect. A little background knowledge needed here. My athletes knew the training schedule for the whole season.  They also knew that the goal of the training schedule was to have them performing at their best at the district meet to give them a shot at qualifying for the state meet. So, some weeks of practice were difficult and the athletes should expect a different time or distance during those weeks.


Even though this level seems OK, this level was the most important level for them to set. This was the base level they would accept for themselves.  They would not allow themselves to perform any lower than this goal. The reason for this level was to help them handle the rough spots in athletics and life. They might have had their boyfriend break up with them. They might have gotten grounded. They might have been fighting a cold.  Instead of letting the rough spot ruin the track meet, I asked my athletes to set a base level.  Anything worse is just not an option. A rough spot can take away a whole track meet for an athlete if they don’t have a level of expectation for themselves.

But so many times in life we let a rough spot steal away a moment from our lives. We have bad days, but letting that negative moment take away everything else is worse. I don’t expect you or even myself to set goals every day, but creating a habit of considering how life has been going, being realistic, and fostering a level of expectation from yourself that you will not fall below, will allow you to be ready to experience something great.

At the end of the track meet my athletes had to share how their day went with me or their event coach. (I had a place on the goal sheet for coaches to initial.) In all they years I coached, there were a few times an athlete performed below their OK goal. But I never had an athlete perform below their OK level twice. What I miss the most this year is seeing the joy the athletes experience when they performed at their Great level. So many times they shared how they had a rough week but were not going to let the circumstance get to them and that mindset lead to a Great performance.

What is your base level?

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