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Directional control were computer memory banks that worked in concert with a Federation starship's helm functions. Aboard Constitution-class vessels, these controls could be accessed through either the library computer or the chief engineer's stations on the bridge. (TOS: "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield")
Directional controls were also a redundant safety feature in the event that the helm's automatic settings could not be overridden manually. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture)