Youth Sports Research Council

Mental Toughness: Enhancing a Sense of Control

For Coaches | General

The concept of control basically refers to an athlete’s understanding of what factors are within his control and what factors are not. Athletes who understand the difference and are able to direct their focus to factors within their ability to control are said to have “focus and concentration.” Without this understanding, athletes spend time and effort thinking about factors outside their ability to control, often referred to as “worry and distraction.”

A third category of factors exist: Prerequisites to control. These are factors that the athlete “could control if. . .”
For instance, controlling the time and energy put into the strength and conditioning training program will likely provide the athlete the strength to throw the ball further and faster or hit with more power or to run further and longer.
Having practiced a backup plan for defense allows the team to switch defense at half time if the original defensive strategy is not working. Attempting to switch to a new defensive alignment that has been rarely practiced during the actual competition is likely to have disastrous consequences.
Thus, high level performers and their coaches understand and act upon the following factors:
* What you do control (effort makes a difference)
* What you don’t control (effort makes no difference)
* What you could control if. . . (prerequisites to control)

Resource Author

David A. Feigley, Ph.D

Publish Date

August 11, 2020

Resource Link