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  • Writer's pictureJenni Schierman


In sports psychology there is a common saying “control your controllables”. If you have been around sport long enough you have likely heard a coach, or another athlete say this at some point. There is a natural desire as an athlete to want to control everything in order to improve performance. Anything that might be able to earn you a competitive edge is sometimes within the realm of exploration.

The problem with this approach is that too many variables are outside of our control. If we begin to try to control everything, we lose sight of focusing on and improving those things that we can make a direct impact on.

This week I want to discuss briefly why it is a bad idea to try to control everything and some strategies you can use instead.


Trying to control things that you aren’t actually able to control (other people, weather, the crowd, traffic, etc) only serves to deplete precious physical and emotional energy that could be put to better use.

It can also put you in a mindset that will take away from your performance. Becoming frustrated and anxious because you are unable to have the impact you expected on these outside factors can lead to decreased performance. This is the exact opposite of what you were trying to achieve.


If you are someone who struggles with trying to control everything simply telling you to stop isn’t going to help. What I have seen work successfully with past clients is working with a coach to understand first why you need to control everything.

Gaining this greater understanding often takes time.

Another strategy that you can implement on your own however, is to understand what you do have control over. It is often helpful to make a list that you can reference. For the purpose of today we can start with some common ideas.

1. Attitude – You have 100% control over your own attitude. How you show up and the energy you communicate out to the world is completely within your control. It will determine how you are received and how people react to you.

2. Effort – The amount of effort you decide to put into your sport, your relationships, and everything in your life is completely up to you.

3. Body Language – This is partly unconscious, but you can control the conscious part of it. The rest you can work on things (communication, emotional intelligence, etc.) that will improve how your unconscious body language communicates.

4. Being on Time – Many people find it incredibly disrespectful when you are late. You can control if you are early/on time. If you are consistently late, ask yourself why. Are you aware you may be communicating a lack of respect?

5. Be coachable – No one has all the answers. If you are an athlete, a coach, or an executive, you can still learn something. Be coachable and open to receiving feedback.

What else would you add to your list? What other things are within your own control? Add them to your list. Understand how they impact you. Understand the things you don’t have control over.


I used to spend far too much time and energy worrying about things I couldn’t’ control. Other people, things that were in the past or future, etc. A good friend said to me “Sunshine, don’t worry about things you can’t control”. I made him repeat it because it sounded so incredibly foreign to me at the time. For some reason though, it resonated. It stuck like an earworm in my head and when I would start to obsess about some silly thing, I would hear him.

Now years later I have managed to work through some of those things that kept me stuck in the wanting to control but it was the initial permission to let go that started it all. MP, if you are reading this, thank you. You gave me the first kick in the pants to stop trying to control everything.

If you need your own kick in the pants or have just been thinking about working with me, click the link here to get in touch. I offer an complimentary prospective client call.

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