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What can you control?

Focus only on what you can control. Why waste time, energy and mental fortitude on things you have no control over.


This applies in day to day life as much as it does to your training and racing.




Find out what you can control 

Make a list of all the things and circumstances that you come across in your life. These can be as simple as the weather, other people’s habits around you or even when a competition has been scheduled. But yes, the list should include all aspects, work, personal and sporting parts. 

This may take several days or weeks to complete. Carry your list with you and as you encounter something new, add it for consideration later.


Ask yourself whether you can control these events. 

Review your list and see if, in any way, you can change their effect on you. Can you change the weather; probably not (unless you travel for a warm weather training camp), but you can make sure you travel to and from training with wet weather gear in case the rain starts before you get home. Can you do anything about those circumstances you’ve written down? 

What is left are the things you can influence; influencing them, you can then increase how much you can gain from them. 


Outcome v Process 

An important distinction between these two. Many athletes growing into their sporting careers will answer the simple question “what is your goal for this race/game” with the typical “I want to win”. Team sport is the same as individual sport. The answer will almost always be the same. Sometimes we hear “I want to win” in another guise, something like “I’m looking for a PB”. 





Looking back to the last section, how much control do you really have over whether you win, get a PB or similar?  You might play the game of your life but someone else does even better?  Should you berate yourself?  The PB might be ruined by the weather; wind or rain or even exceptionally “nice” (read hot) weather can make achieving it so much harder that it becomes an impossible goal.  Instead of being disheartened, try to find some other markers to assess your performance. 


These outcome goals will lead to frustration for the athlete with himself/herself and/or against their team mates. This will distract the athlete from concentrating on the aspects of their own performance which they can control and which are important for success.  


Focus on what you can Control

No matter how small your outcome goal; win the first tackle, hit the first ball for 6, take the first corner in the lead, you will not be able to control whether your efforts results in achieving these goals. 

However, by controlling your physical preparation up to that point, by being mentally tuned to the situation and being aware of the execution of your movements and disciplines will lead you towards the outcome. You will only achieve the outcome if you have been able to control your arrival at that point. 

An International competitor once said to me that they were unhappy if they won but felt they did not achieve their process goals. Equally, they viewed the race a success even if they achieved their process goals but failed to win.  In fact, they said, winning was always the last thing on their minds in their most important races; the outcome is just a reward at the end of the event; ticking all the process targets is the enjoyable goal. That is no coincidence.     


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