Being able to read, understand, use, and manage your emotions is an important mental skill in sporting performance. Emotions produce physiological, mental, and behavioral changes, for example, emotions affect heart rate, the way you see things, the way you decide things, and the way you behave.

Top athletes learn to manage their emotions in ways which they believe will enhance their performance. Athletes may do certain things before competing to help them stay positive and achieve an optimum level of physiological arousal. They may do other things when they face a challenge while competing because they feel that they perform best when they are in a particular emotional state.

Top athletes tend to use a variety of strategies to help manage their feelings and emotions, for example, relaxation, redirection of attention, suppression of thoughts, self-talk, and imagery. An elite athlete’s goal is to have personal strategies that help create the right emotional climate to handle different situations while competing.

Emotions Tips
1 Increase your knowledge and understanding of feelings and emotions by noting your thoughts and feelings in practices and competitions.
2 Learn to read people’s expressions and behaviours and think about how your words and actions affect others, for example, your coach, fellow competitors, and your family.
3 Recognize how other people’s feelings and emotions may affect you.
4 Express your frustrations and concerns appropriately rather than bottling things up. Use humour to defuse tension.
5 Use visualization and positive self-talk to manage performance anxiety and change emotional gears.
6 Try to develop emotional strategies for handling different competitive situations so you know what to do when the situation arises.

What experts say

A ballplayer who loses his head and can’t keep his cool is worse than no player at all.

Lou Gehrig American Baseball Player

A skater goes through a lot of different feelings during a competition. Staying calm is the key point. You feel a little anxious, a little nervous, a little unsettled. That’s when you’ve got to trust your feelings, trust your abilities. Believe in what you have worked for so long to achieve. Have faith in yourself.

Elvis Stojko Figure Skater

Do the SPQ20 and find out how skilled you are at managing your emotions