“You have to be able to center yourself, to let all of your emotions go…Don’t ever forget that you play with your soul as well as your body.” – Kareem Abdul Jabbar
Emotion is a necessity when it comes to sports. You need to feel the passion, excitement and bring out that enthusiasm to perform something convincingly much less remarkably.
Yet, letting your emotions run wild may bring about catastrophic consequences or regrets.
Have you had moments in your games when you couldn’t help but show your displeasure or anger because of frustrations with yourself or your teammate? Somehow you need not show your anger, but you made a decision to do so. It’s based on half intention and half intuition that drove you to do or say something unimaginable or incomprehensible to people around you. The situation may not be a big deal but your reaction may have made it seem like either the whole world owes you a life or the world is about to come to an end.
The next thing you know, people around you start telling you to relax, and you get angrier even more. For some people, telling them to relax affects their self-image and they get even more off balanced, for others they start to feel guilty and quit the game or training in the middle of it.
I’m sure you’ve seen this too often from your teammates or even yourself during the many trainings you’ve been attending.
I remember my team had a game in Taiwan sometime in 2005 and because I was so bent on winning, I lashed out at my teammate when she passed the ball to the opponent by mistake and the opponent scored immediately to take the lead. I felt horrible immediately after that, not only because of the tonality of what I said, but that teammate is a very good friend of mine. Right after this moment, my friend performed even worse, and my performance also plummeted. The lashing out obviously did not help but made the results worse and feelings hurt.
Now that I’ve so much cool and calm moments to think about this, it’s easy to say I shouldn’t have done what I did. First, I could have just carried on with the game since I couldn’t do anything about the mistake that just happened and at least push myself further to retaliate against my opponent to go for a draw. Second, even if I did lash out, I could have just let that go and focus on the game first and have a talk with my friend after the game to apologise and sort things out. How do you stay so sensible in such highly intensive conditions when you are already drained all over to have anything left to remain poise and unflustered?
I’ve seen super cool and calm athletes around, but I don’t believe nobody ever lost his or her cool at any point in time during training or games in their lifetime. There’s bound to be a time when it just happens due to whatever reason. The only differences would be the context, the magnitude and the effects they’ve made.
In my opinion, every individual has their own set of emotional spectrum and at the same time the emotional spectrums between individuals are also different. They shouldn’t be compared with one another. However, each individual has to be responsible to find that balance between that unique spectrum inside of themselves. This also means that each individual has to find the unique solutions to convert that balance to an action or expression that communicates clearly and effectively to the world.
But in general, every serious athlete’s challenge and aim is always to let go of some negative emotion and bounce back quickly to take on the next challenge.
At the same time, it’s not possible for you to hold on to every emotion without expressing it to play your best game. Say if I were to lose my temper in a game yet show responsibility for whatever consequence that caused, apologise appropriately and swing back to focus on my game immediately to recoup the loss, for me to have lost my cool becomes more forgivable and something that can be easily brushed off as part of the game.
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- Components of Emotional Intelligence by Mindtools
- Serena Williams Fined for Outburst by ESPN
- On Serena and Emotional Control by Sentient Decision Science
- Sports Ethics: Focus on What you can Control – Yourself by J. Patrick Dobel
Best Performance Books:
- Emotional Intelligence: 10th Anniversary Edition; Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman
- Your Free Audio Book
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