To ensure that a target is effective, Alan should use SMART, which stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound. The goal needs to be clear so the performer knows what they are trying to achieve, it should also be measurable in order to quantify the aim. The target needs to be possible for Alan to achieve, this should be challenging but not too hard. It also needs to be time bound allowed a date or time frame for completion.
For example, a specific element would be for Alan to focus on one of his weaknesses and make his training appropriate in order for this target to be improved. It can be measurable for example by trying to improve his 1500m time by 5 seconds; this would allow him to then clearly see improvement. Ensuring his target is achievable and realistic, he would need to benchmark where he currently is and then his new target is not too far away from this. For example, if he can jump 4m in long jump, he should set his target for 4.15m. He would set his goal for a specific date for example by April 2014 to allow him to check that he is progressing at the right rate. He can then use this to alter his target or set a new one if he is improving at a faster rate than expected.
Target setting is an extremely valuable tool as it would provide focus for Alan and make sure he is only working on the relevant things to lead to improvement. It would allow him to monitor progress and monitor the effectiveness of the programme he has created. It would maintain his motivation levels which would mean he is more likely to continue to train and therefore improve. If poor targets are set this can hinder performance as could result in demotivation which could cause Alan to drop out which would result in a drop in performance.
In conclusion, target setting and using the SMART process in setting these is vital in securing improvement in a particular sport or activity. It allows the athlete to focus on a specific area to improve on and allows them to monitor their progress over a set period of time. By ensuring the target is within the athletes reach would ensure motivation is kept high and there is a sense of achievement at the end of the process.