The Importance of Emotional Management in Athletes

Emotions are tied to sports. So much so that, at times, they dominate an athlete’s performance. In this article, discover the importance of emotional management in athletes.
The Importance of Emotional Management in Athletes

Last update: 30 March, 2021

One of the most valuable mental skills an athlete can have is emotional management. This is because performing in the best state of mind requires awareness and control of the body’s most basic and instinctive reactions.

Sports are activities that are charged with emotions. For example, the athlete who cries after winning a championship, the one who breaks a tennis racket when they lose a game, or the one who hugs their teammates after scoring a goal. In these common sports situations, emotions run high and indicate that they’re important to the athlete.

The advantages of emotional management in sports

However, there’s a fine line between intensely living those moments and losing control. If an athlete doesn’t control their emotions, their performance is likely to suffer. This is why we decided to talk about the importance of emotional management in athletes.

It allows you to enjoy competitions more

Emotions allow you to experience key moments in life with greater intensity. The type of emotion you feel will determine the value of the experience and the memory. If it’s positive, you’ll feel happy every time you remember it, but if it’s negative, bitterness will linger.

Controlling your emotions, especially negative ones, will help you focus on the aspects of competitions that really matter: doing your best and enjoying yourself. This will be very difficult to do if emotions such as fear or anger dominate.

Emotional management improves your relationship with your coach and teammates

When an athlete is very worked up, they usually take their anger out on the people who are closest to them: their coach or teammates. If these reactions are common, they can deteriorate the relationship with these people to such an extent that they’ll end up isolating themselves or losing faith in their coach.

A coach with their team.

Learning to control your emotions is synonymous with respecting yourself and the people around you. Assertiveness is a key concept in this regard. This consists of considering other people while expressing your wishes and feelings, not simply using, “That’s just the way I am” as an excuse.

Following up on this idea, according to an article published by the International School of Physical Education and Sports, assertiveness helps build healthy social relationships and influences people’s emotional well-being.

It boosts physical performance

Motor control and emotions are closely related. Emotional states are capable of influencing or altering muscle control. For example, when an athlete becomes nervous, their muscles become stiff, which can alter their performance in a competition.

On the other hand, emotional management can help improve self-control. This involves making sure that your nerves aren’t going to jeopardize you or interfere with the physical or technical skills you practiced.

Also, controlling intense emotions is an essential step to focusing your attention on what’s really important during competition. One of the most common causes of distraction is paying attention to negative emotions or thoughts during decisive moments.

It’s a way to keep negative thoughts at bay

There’s a two-way relationship between thoughts and emotions. In other words, thoughts often produce emotions. Similarly, when you experience a certain emotional state, your emotions produce thoughts and ideas.

An athlete thinking.

Therefore, influencing a certain emotion will also have an effect on thoughts. This is especially interesting in the case of negative thoughts. One way to put an end to them is evaluating their content and questioning them. Nevertheless, it’s also a good idea to act directly on the emotion that produces them.

Emotional management is key to success

Experiencing emotions is the most human thing there is. There’s nothing wrong with living life emotionally or feeling emotions intensely. However, you have to be able to control your emotional reactions instead of allowing them to control you.

In short, emotional management isn’t only a way to ensure optimal performance but also to ensure the well-being and mental health in all areas of life. What other reasons do you need to start controlling your emotions?

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Nápoles, M. (2008). Asertividad, personalidad y deporte. Escuela Internacional de Educación Física y Deportes, La Habana (Cuba).

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