Controlling the Controllables

In your everyday life, there are moments throughout the day that can affect you one way or another. When you are a high school student in 2018, those moments can have a lasting impact on your mentality. In the game of volleyball, there are any number of things that happen, both on and off the court, that you have no control over. There are other items that you can have an influence on, but still no control. So why do we, as athletes and competitors, focus so much on those items? Why do we let them affect our performance?

Often, we worry about things that are outside of our control. Whether we like it or not, we are unable to make someone else do what we want them to do. However, that rarely stops us from focusing on those things and letting them get to us, bringing down our game, our attitude, and our mentality.

These emotions can be heightened in an athletic, competitive environment. Especially in team sports, the amount of stimuli that is around can create an atmosphere that makes you lose control. However, if you can remind yourself to “control the controllables,” you can keep yourself in a positive mindset, maintain steady performance, and have an advantage over your competition. So what are some of the things that you can control?

Your Attitude/Behavior:

As humans, we have a tendency to blame others for things that we do. It’s far easier to blame your coaches, teammates, opponents, referees, and the list goes on…than it is to remember that you are in control of your attitude and behavior. The emotions that you display, things that you say, and the way in which you carry yourself are all things that you have control over. That attitude can have an effect on…

Your Body Language:

We are generally very unaware of what our body is doing at any given moment. Even if you are focusing on maintaining a positive attitude, your body language can display a totally opposite perspective. Slumped over shoulders, dropped heads, crossed arms, and looks of general disinterest are all elements that you have total control over.  Your body language can also have a massive effect on all of your teammates, which adds a variable and increases the difficulty of maintaining a supportive team atmosphere.

Your Effort:

Generally, with a more positive attitude and better body language, your effort level will remain high. It is extremely difficult to maximize your effort if you let your attitude and behavior get out of control. If your effort level drops, your coaches notice and it can incidentally affect things like playing time and the way in which your teammates treat you. You have control over your effort.

Your Body/Fundamentals:

While players are always striving to improve their skills, a lack of focus on those skills can derail progress. Every single bad repetition can cause irreparable harm to your improvement, and the more bad reps, the longer they take to fix. However, you have control over what your body is doing. As long as you don’t just allow your body to do what it wants to do and instead actively decide to move your body in the right ways, you will improve.


All of these individual items are related to one another, but all come together to make sure that you are controlling yourself. It doesn’t require any special education or degree to understand and learn how to control yourself. It just requires active thought.

Now what you cannot forget is, that although you may do all of the right things, control your attitude and behavior, and work hard, you ultimately cannot control the other people surrounding you. You cannot control your teammates, your coaches, the referees, your opponents, or anyone else, but you can show them all that your are an outstanding competitor, teammate, and person. Very little can make up for the kind of respect that can be gained through controlling the things that you have control over.

So don’t waste another minute having a bad attitude because of what someone else might have done, not executing a skill because you “forgot,” or not giving your absolute best effort because you think it might not matter. Control the controllables and control yourself.