Me Circle

The Me Circle is a great visual to help athletes stay focused on what they can control. Staying focused on the controllables has a strong correlation to increased confidence. 

EXERCISE (Note: The directions below are for a team, but this exercise is still effective for individuals. I encourage all individuals to create their own Me Circle):  

Everyone has a sheet of paper and a writing utensil. Have each person draw a circle on their paper (it can be as big as they choose). Allow them 5-10 minutes to write inside the circle, everything in their sport that they can control 100%.  Then, on the outside of the circle list things they cannot control 100%.   

If leading this, you can start with a few examples. Ask them if they can control scoring. Allow for discussion, but the answer is ultimately no. For example, in basketball, all you can control is how you shoot and the shot you took. But what happens after it leaves you, is out of your control. You can’t control a defender making a great defensive play. You may have scored a goal, but the ref may call a foul away from the ball. In soccer, some uncontrollables for an offensive player are: a defender making an amazing tackle; the goalie making an incredible save; or a phantom offsides call could be made. Weather conditions and officials are uncontrollable. Example: 

Follow up that question, by asking them if they can control winning or losing. Allow for discussion but again the answer is no. You can’t control how good your opponent is. And let’s be honest, some teams or individuals are just that much better. You can’t control how your teammates will perform that day, or the coaches’ decisions, or the referee’s calls. 

As you discuss these 2 examples, you may get comments such as, “I can control how I respond or the shot I take though.” Remind your athletes that those controllables go inside the Me Circle. 

Let them take a few minutes to continue the activity on their own. Then, as a team, call out things outside the Me Circle. When those are exhausted, list the ones inside the circle. Confidence is center stage inside the circle. Basically, all we can control are our thoughts, our body language, how we respond (which is a combination of self-talk and body language), how we prepare our bodies, our teams, our minds. In addition, we can control our communication and our decisions but not our coaches or teammates. 

We can never be truly confident, when we focus on things outside the Me Circle. You naturally gain confidence when your thoughts and energy stay focused on things within your control. Don’t give away important energy and waste emotions on things you can’t control. The more we can learn to stay inside the Me Circle, the more our confidence, happiness, and chance for success increases. 

The best practice is to determine your baseline number.  Subjectively come up with a percentage of your thoughts and energy that you feel are consistently inside the Me Circle. From there, your goal is to try to improve 1-5% each day or week. A small increase will provide big results. 

Note: Not even the best athletes in the world are 100% inside the Me Circle. Don’t set yourself up for failure by being disappointed when you aren’t 100% focused on what you can control. The idea is to become more aware and therefore focused on your controllables versus your uncontrollables.   

Tami Matheny is owner of Refuse2LoseCoaching. She is a Mental Game Coach and Author. Her books include: “This is Good” at:, “The Confident Athlete: 4 Easy Steps to Build and Maintain Confidence”, “Challenger Deep: Stories, Fables, and Lessons to Help You Rise Above Adversity” and “The Confidence Journal”. All books can be purchased online at Amazon. For group discounts or signed copies contact

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