High stakes and heightened emotions are characteristic of competitive sport, particularly at the highest level. For those who operate in elite and professional sport the presence of stress seems ubiquitous. Coaches and athletes alike regularly face high pressure scenarios where there is a great deal of expectation and much riding on the outcome. Anticipation of an important event, such as a big game, major competition, or selection trials naturally inspire a host of feelings, thoughts, and emotions, ranging from excitement to anxiety and even dread, sometimes simultaneously! In this post we explore how we can equip ourselves and help our athletes to meet the psychological and emotional challenges we will inevitably face on the journey.
Emotion has traditionally been viewed as something to be suppressed. The logic goes that as leaders and people in positions of authority we should be detached and act ‘without emotion’. If somebody is described as ‘emotional’ generally this is construed as a bad thing; when we become ‘emotional’ the implication is that we are no longer being rational or we are not capable of reason. Conventional wisdom advocates we avoid an emotional response or making emotional decisions. In contrast to these established views, more recent study in this area demonstrates that emotion is in fact integral to reasoning, decision making, guiding our behaviour, and our ability to relate to others. Emotional intelligence is accordingly becoming recognised as being at least as important as more established forms of intelligence. Indeed we increasingly hear commentators proclaim that ‘EQ trumps IQ’. In this latest Informed Blog we delve into the role of emotion in coaching and our work with athletes, and explore what aptitudes we need to possess in this area as leaders, coaches, and practitioners.