Friday, June 26, 2015

Athletic Emotional Intelligence

jordan shot w border.pngMichael Jordan is the greatest player to ever play the game of basketball.  He is not  the biggest or the strongest the league has seen, nor did he have the highest IQ or shooting percentage.  But he always seems to perform his best when the stakes are high. How do some players remain calm and fully in control of their emotions to reach peak performance in clutch situations?  
The concept of Emotional Intelligence (EI) has been used in the business world but research in sports psychology has seen a dramatic increase in the past decade. “Emotional Intelligence refers to individual’s ability to perceive, utilize, understand, and manage their emotions.”1  Recent findings show that EI is arguably the most important aspect in achieving peak performance in sports.  According to psychologist Daniel Goleman, EI was found to be twice as important as IQ or skills for leader performance in several large companies and athletic programs.2 The few athletes that learn to master control over their emotions tend to be better leaders and considerably more successful.  
Emotional Intelligence has many different components and factors that you must understand to become a peak performer. Though it is complex, there are 3 fundamental ideals of applying EI to your athletic performance.  Understanding these guidelines can give perspective on how and why it is important to become emotionally intelligent in sports.  
  • Self-awareness-Ability to understand your moods and emotions in terms of their effect on you and their effect on others.  Highly self-aware athletes are confident, have a realistic view of their abilities, and are not afraid to admit their mistakes.  
Application: Chart your thoughts and feelings at practices and competitions.
  • Self-Regulation- Capacity to control or redirect disrupting emotions and dispositions.
Application: Be prepared!  Think of 5 scenarios that rattle you in competition.  Formulate tactical solutions to get your emotions back on track for the given situations.  
  • Motivation-Successful players are motivated to play for the sake of playing.  Be intrinsically motivated!
Application: Fall in love again.  Revisit the reason you began to play in first place.  Status and approval was not your initial reason for playing your sport.  
To start becoming an emotionally intelligent athlete you must first have a grasp on these foundational keys.  Over the next segments of this blog I will discuss techniques to become mentally tougher and emotionally intelligent in sports.  
1Mayer, J. D., & Salovey, P. (1997). What is emotional intelligence? In P. Salovey & D. Sluyter (Eds.), Emotional development and emotional intelligence: Implications for educators (pp. 3-31). New York: Basic Book
2Goleman, D. (1998). What makes a leader? Harvard Business Review, 76, 93-102.

1 comment:

  1. I have often wondered about the success rate of an athlete in comparison to intelligence although it was not until this article that I pondered the "emotional" aspect of it all. Vince Young is the perfect example of who comes to mind. He was great in college while under the strict guidelines of the NCAA and his academic/coach advisers. As soon as he went into the real world, however, he was a bust. He could not control his personal life, finances, or behavior and it all unraveled on the field. So many others have come before and after Young that it makes a fan wonder if these guys are really ready for the big leagues. I know Chris Carter of the Minnesota Vikings mentored (or tried) many new rookies for this very reason. I do think Michael Jordan is the poster child for emotional maturity but I also wonder how much further our young athletes could go if a better, more realistic mentoring plan became part of their college experience. Great article. I would love to see more on this topic.