Want to win an Olympic final? Get in touch with your emotions
This instalment of the popular media outlet “The Conversation” discusses an event that was the topic of conversations around the world in 2016; the most recent Olympics. Author, James Beale discusses the way in which elite athletes employ their emotions to cope with the pressures of performance, while at the same time putting them in a mindset, which would allow them to perform at their best. Spectators watched as Olympic men’s 100-meter champion Usain Bolt delivered on the performance we have all come to expect of him and one could wonder how someone could appear to be so laid back in their approach to such a high pressure situation. This paper suggests a closer look at the way in which an athlete like him has learnt to manage and use his emotions to his advantage.
Sports Psychology theory speaks of learning to control emotions and mood states with the aim of (amongst others) increasing self- awareness and decreasing performance anxiety. The link between an athlete’s emotions and their physical performance has been well documented in sports literature and the article mentions the term “chocking” as an example of one particular type of performance outcome which we may all be familiar with, where an athlete underperforms as a result of failing to effectively manage their emotions.
Generally speaking, we know that the most effective emotional state is the one which allows us to successfully adapt to the demands of a particular environment. This is also true on the sports-field where sports men and women need to develop a working knowledge of their emotional functioning and what they need to do to help themselves to experience the emotions which will serve them best in achieving their goal. Here we find another example of the benefits to developing emotional intelligence (EI) competencies. One need not be an elite athlete to experience the weight of expectation and desire to perform well in a sporting arena and this paper is a reminder that supported development of EI competencies can provide anyone with the coping skills necessary to succeed in this domain.