Control and Influence Model in Sport

Bo Hanson
4x Olympian, Director, and Lead Consultant

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At some point in time most athletes have been (or should be) exposed to the Control and Influence Model also known as the Circle of Concern and Circle of Influence. This model is taken from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey, a fantastic book which we highly recommend.

What is the Control and Influence Model?

Our version of the Control and Influence Model is made up of three circles, the Circle of Control, the Circle of Influence and the Circle of Concern.

We use this model to choose where to focus our time and energy and it is especially relevant in sport. This simple model is for understanding those elements, situations, events and challenges of which you have total control over (The Circle of Control), influence over (The Circle of Influence) and the situations you have no influence over but are still concerned about (the Circle of Concern). Essentially, we need to spend our energy dealing with those situations where we have control and influence and not to consume any energy on events of which we have no control or influence but may still be concerned about.

You want to be a proactive person rather than a reactive person. As Covey says:

Proactive people focus their efforts on their Circle of Influence. They work on the things they can do something about: health, children, problems at work. Reactive people focus their efforts in the Circle of Concern, things over which they have little or no control: the national debt, terrorism, the weather. Gaining an awareness of the areas in which we expend our energies in is a giant step in becoming proactive.”

Preoccupying yourself with issues outside of your control is a huge waste of time and energy. So how does the Control and Influence Model relate to sport?

The Control and Influence Model in Sport: Application

In your sporting environment are you spending too much focus, time and energy on the things outside of your control?

My sport was rowing, and one thing I had no control over was the weather. Now there was a time when rowing in rough water would annoy and frustrate me and this lead to poor results and a reputation of being a poor performer in difficult conditions.

My Coach helped me realize I could not change the water but I could learn techniques of rowing to become better in these conditions. By the time I entered my final fours years as an athlete, I was unbeatable in rough conditions. When the water was rough, I knew I would deal with it so well that I did not have to row “hard” anymore, but instead could work my technique and enjoy the challenge knowing that most others would struggle. It literally got to the point where I hoped it would be rough! This was a complete change from early in my career.

I’m sure there are similar situations within every sport. Many sports have to deal with the weather as one aspect of their performance which is outside their control. However, learning what you can influence in situations like this can help you become a better athlete and more consistent performer. Coaches also have to learn to deal with the aspects of their role which is outside their control to become a better Coach and a highly effective person.

Below we have included a few more excellent quotes from Habit 1 of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. We highly recommend this book and you can buy it now on Amazon.

Other Favorite Parts of Habit 1

Habit 1 is about the choices you make and being proactive. As quoted in the book:

Your life doesn’t just “happen.” Whether you know it or not, it is carefully designed by you. The choices, after all, are yours. You choose happiness. You choose sadness. You choose decisiveness. You choose ambivalence. You choose success. You choose failure. You choose courage. You choose fear. Just remember that every moment, every situation, provides a new choice. And in doing so, it gives you a perfect opportunity to do things differently to produce more positive results.”

Proactive people recognize that they are “response-able.” They don’t blame genetics, circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behavior. They know they choose their behavior. Reactive people, on the other hand, are often affected by their physical environment. They find external sources to blame for their behavior. If the weather is good, they feel good. If it isn’t, it affects their attitude and performance, and they blame the weather. All of these external forces act as stimuli that we respond to. Between the stimulus and the response is your greatest power – you have the freedom to choose your response.”

“Instead of reacting to or worrying about conditions over which they have little or no control, proactive people focus their time and energy on things they can control. The problems, challenges, and opportunities we face fall into two areas – Circle of Concern and Circle of Influence.”


Where to From Here…

For more great books check out our recommended book section which includes:

At Athlete Assessments, we’re here to provide you with excellence in service and here to help you be your best. If there is anything we can assist you with, please Contact Us.

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