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Control What YOU Think, Not What YOU Can

Updated: Oct 26, 2022

It's funny to read, but in sports, as in life, we don't have much control over anything. It is a scary reality to think about, but when you slow down and realize this, it can actually help you grow as an athlete and person.

We have all heard it before from a coach, teacher, mentor, or boss. "Control what you can" about a situation or event. The issue with this is that as human beings, we want to control everything and anything. The reason is simple, if we have no control, we have no way of knowing what to expect or what will happen. If we can control something, we have more of a perceived idea on what to expect or what will happen. However, even when we have control, we only have an idea on what is possible or likely to occur.

Instead of controlling what you can, control what you are thinking. At the end of the day, the only aspect of our lives we have any control over, is OURSELVES. This includes our reactions, emotions, movements and most importantly, thoughts. When we can focus our locus of control on our own thoughts and behaviors, situations tend to become easier and less anxiety provoking. The reason being, we feel we have control over something in an environment where the only constant is change.

The best part about this philosophy and skill is that it is not hard to master and take ownership of. Whether in sport or life, the ability to control our own emotions is something you should want to master. When our ability to regulate ourselves is practiced and gained, there are countless benefits. Some of them include an increase in self-confidence, constructive and effective communication, improved mood, and the ability to make better choices.

To prove this, think about a time where you were stressed or under pressure. Maybe it was during a presentation for work or school, maybe it was on the free throw line down 1 with 5 seconds to play, maybe its standing over a 3 foot putt to break 90 for the first time, or maybe it was simply when needing to make a big decision for you or your family. What emotions come back to you? What are you feeling? Hearing? Reliving? Depending on the result of the situation you are either happy or sad. Yet, now I want you to ask yourself what about that situation did you have any control over? What aspects did you try to control? Of those, which ones helped you be successful or which ones led to your failure? You see, all these questions will become easier once you practice and obtain the ability to truly control what YOU THINK and regulate yourself. I would love for each of you to do this and eventually feel like you had complete control of yourselves, because in each of those examples, the only factor that can be truly controlled is YOU.

As a take home, when you find yourself in a situation whether it be in sport or life, ask yourself this one simple question, "Can I control this?" 99% of the time the answer is going to be no, but then ask yourself "Can I control myself within this?" and 100% of the time the answer will be yes. Most events in life have a positive and a negative side, no matter what it is, both realities exist. It comes down to our emotional regulation and ability to control our thoughts whether we are able to recognize that reality and chose the correct path for ourselves. Control YOUR thoughts and allow the rest to workout the way it will. Life is truly 10% what happens to us and 90% how we respond to it.

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