3 Steps to Reach Your Ultimate Potential in 2020

author - guylaine girard

Photo by Paul Rutherford for UltiPhotos

Do you do better in practice than in games? 

Do you want to avoid mistakes so badly that you get very nervous and underperform when it counts?

Does your confidence easily fade when things don’t go as expected?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you need to master your focus by creating your COMPASS.

What is a compass for an ultimate player?

A compass is a device for determining directions. In ultimate, your process goals make up your compass.

Process goals are objectives over which you have full control and relate to the execution and form of a tactical gesture or strategy. Process goals are the steps that lead to your outcome goal—the result you want to achieve.

These goals depend only on you, not on your team’s or teammates’ performance. They also help you improve your game and approach your outcome goal.

3 reasons why you need your compass to play at your best

In sports, building your own compass will reduce your stress level and increase self-confidence in three ways.

You have more control

Stress is directly related to our sense of power over our performance. When we don’t feel completely confident and in control of something, we start to feel nervous. Giving yourself process goals – small and very specific objectives – increases your level of control over a situation.

You become laser-focused

Your process goals help you direct your attention toward specific cues, which allows you to stop thinking about the outcome and consequences of a defeat - two things that increase our stress levels.

You can objectively assess your performance

Right after the game, instead of focusing only on the result – which you don’t have total control over, you now have a tool to assess your game. Review each process goal: let’s say that you set 3 process goals for your game and you achieved all three, but you lost the game… overall, you reached 75% of your goals, and 100% of those which you had complete control over. Not bad!

Step 1. Learn The Skill

Goal setting is a mental skill you absolutely want to develop as a player because it makes you progress much more quickly. Setting great goals – here, I don’t necessarily mean big goals, but rather the best goals for you at a given moment – will make you achieve success. 

The first step to master this skill is to know the attributes of a good process goal. Many athletes I work with either don’t have goals, or their goals are not appropriate to make them take that very important step to push to the next level.

Here are the 5 COMPASS attributes of a good process goal: 

Examples of process goals for each attribute


  1. Under my control: I want to position my body on defense to see the disc and the person I defend.
  2. Not under my control: I want to win that game. (My control over this goal is limited because I cannot control my teammates’ decisions, my coaches’ decisions, the observers, or the performance of my opponents.)

Observable and Measurable

  1. Measurable: When I get the disc close to the sideline, I want to look for an option downfield within 2 seconds and then look at my reset.
  2. Not measurable: I want to throw well. (What does “throwing well” mean? How can I observe and measure it? How can I know I reached my goal? What are the criteria?)


  1. Positive formulation: I want to throw an easy-to-catch forehand to my teammate at shoulder height.
  2. Not positive: I don’t want to throw a disc too high or too low.

Attainable* and Specific

  1. Attainable and specific: I want to hit my target 8 times out of 10 with my backhand.
  2. Not realistic and specific: I want to complete all my throws (100%) for the whole tournament.

* Everything is possible! This attribute aims not to limit yourself, but rather to reduce the pressure you put on your shoulders and to help you perform more freely. When you must give your best performance ever to reach your goal, your stress increases dramatically…

Perceptible via Senses

  1. Related to the senses: I want to reposition myself quickly when marking by lowering my center of gravity and staying on the balls of my feet. (touch / physical sensations)
  2. Not related to the senses: I want to make a good mark. (What do I need to see or hear for a “good” mark? Do I have to feel a specific sensation?)

Step 2. Start Practicing Now!

It is now time to set goals for your next practice or game. It can be for any game; the purpose here is to learn to do it!

Download your Goal Setting Worksheet

Choose up to 3 topics for which you would like to set goals for your upcoming practice or game. In the worksheet, write down 1 or 2 process goal(s) for each topic.

Examples of topics

  • Throwing, marking, and reactions to my own mistakes.
  • Cutting, covering on defense, and my reactions to calls.
  • Backhand throws, covering strikers on defense, and my reaction after teammates’ mistakes.

Make sure your goals meet the 5 COMPASS attributes. For each goal, revise the attributes and check the corresponding boxes in the worksheet.

Do it with your team

You can also repeat the same exercise with your team. 

Examples of team topics

  • Offense strategy, defense strategy, and the attitude on the sideline.
  • Covering cutters on defense, end zone offense, and our attitude after we score.
  • Break throws, marking handlers, and our attitude after we don’t score.

Step 3. Master Your Focus

The next step is to train to become a master at setting goals! 

Goal setting requires practice: you want to learn what works for you. Many roads lead to your goals, and you must find the best and fastest road for you. The more you practice setting goals, the better you become at targeting the real problem and finding the right solution.

Moreover, your process goals must be specific enough so you can see progress; it will give you the motivation to keep going. Finally, your goals must also inspire you to push your limits without being so high that they put too much pressure on your shoulders and slow you down. 

You should also strengthen your attention and learn to focus on your goals—not on things you can’t control. Start small at a practice or league game, and then do it for games with higher stakes.

Repeat this exercise for practices and for games to clarify where you are going and how to get there. Over time, you will do it more quickly and easily, and you will learn to master your focus in the season’s biggest games.

Want to Continue your Mental Toughness work?

Guylaine Girard is a Mental & Ultimate Coach who would love to help you achieve your goals this year.

Download her free ebook: 3 Step to Get in the Zone and Find Your Flow

Or continue your mental toughness training with Guylaine on her brand new Patreon membership.