Emotional Intelligence for Athletes
How often do you hear people talk about a player who has a bad attitude? You probably know a person like this. This person blames teammates, doesn’t follow the coach’s direction, and gets angry at any and everything, possibly even starting fights. I’m sure you can think of a person like this. I can.
A bad attitude is, basically, horrible emotional intelligence. What is emotional intelligence, you say? Emotional intelligence is understanding your emotions, why you have them, and how these emotions make you act. There is a long list of emotions that a human can experience.
Some primary emotions that we feel are:
The word “emotion” comes from the Latin word “emovere”, which literally means “to move”. Basically, your emotions make you act. Whether these actions are good or bad, that is up to you.
The amazing thing about emotions is that only you experience them. Outside circumstances may influence your emotions, but only you actually feel it. Let’s do an exercise to prove this.
For every emotion listed below, take a few minutes and feel each one of these emotions to its extent:
Now, I didn’t make you feel each of these. I suggested it, but you made yourself feel fear, sadness, and love. This shows that at any moment, you can determine what you feel. Most people live by the cause and effect syndrome.
The Cause and Effect Syndrome:
Something happened ? Now I feel (insert emotion)
You can live this way, but this is reacting to circumstances, and not being in control of your life. Here’s an example: A player is angry from the referee’s previous call, as well as the fact that his team is losing by 15 points. Anger and frustration start to build in that player. Suddenly, he is elbowed in the mouth by the opposing player who has been taunting him the whole game.
This player now has two choices:
1. The normal response would be to retaliate. He is frustrated and angry, and it would be extremely easy to let his emotions get the best of him. However, the consequences of this would be that he may get ejected from the game or sat on the bench by the coach. Who does that help? The team? No. Himself? No. The coach and fans? Definitely not.
2. The unusual response would be to have emotional intelligence. This player would analyze the situation, and realize that he is angry and frustrated. And he realizes that the opposing player may have done this on purpose just to make him angry.
So what happens now?
The rest of the story depends on whether the player chooses path 1 or 2. Let’s say he chooses path #2. In path #2, the player would take a deep breath for a second or two. He would think about the situation, what he is feeling, and shift his emotion from anger and frustration, to being grateful that he is even playing at all, and already has 15 points in the game.
He will also feel hopeful that his team can come back and win the game, since there is 10 minutes left on the clock. Any basketball player knows that 10 minutes is an eternity, and anything can happen during that time. This gets that player motivated, and he starts to motivate the rest of his team as well, in an attempt to chip away at the deficit.
Inspired by this player, the rest of his team comes together to chip away at the deficit, and eventually they win on a buzzer-beating play. The coach, the fans, and the team are all happy and celebrate the great come-from-behind victory.
So what caused the chain of events in this situation?
One player’s choice to take path #2 instead of path #1.
So how can you also make great choices, and motivate your team to victory? In a tense situation that can make you emotional,
Follow these 3 easy steps:
1. Take a deep breath in and then exhale. This will give you enough time to think about the situation, and what is happening. If possible, repeat for two or three more breaths.
2. Be self-aware. Understand and recognize the situation, and what is happening. Know that you
are experiencing these emotional highs or lows, and try to understand why.
3. Get control of yourself and the situation at hand.
We actually determine our emotions, but we constantly think the outside world does. At any moment, you can experience any emotion you wish, so getting in control of your emotions benefits you and everyone else around you.