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MYSA Coaching Tip o' the Week

Can / Can’t Control

With diabolical weather closing some fields and creating sloppy conditions on remaining ones for MYSA State Championship weekend, it’s an important time to reinforce with players (and adults) that champions focus on what they can control and let go of what they can’t. In the MYSA PACT program, we offer a simple T-chart for players, coaches, and parents to make a list of what they can and can’t control. It’s common to hyperventilate over the can’t control side: officials’ calls, field conditions, weather, opponents, decisions of others. It’s the excuse-making side of the ledger as in:

“We would’ve won if the field hadn’t been such a mess, so we couldn’t play our style.”

The Can Control side is the mental toughness test, holding ourselves accountable regardless of external factors. Instead of laying blame, the Can Control side means taking responsibility as in:

“We didn’t adapt to the sloppy field as well as we should have.”

Wasting time and energy on the Can’t Control side is like an emotional cookie, comfort food with no nutritional value. It allows participants to feel better because they convince themselves that the negative outcome wasn’t their fault. However, this attitude can make players feel powerless and can drain motivation to train hard if they feel like results are mostly out of their hands.

The Can Control side provides the opportunity for character development we all expect from sport. It challenges all of us to look inward and admit that we can improve through effort and attitude and focusing on the things we have the power to change. Instead of hyperventilating over Can’t Control issues, a Can Control focus provides a breath of fresh air that allows coaches and parents to have much richer conversations with young people about their personal and soccer growth.

Best to all those competing this weekend.