The Power of Emotions in Sports
Human beings are emotional creatures. Our emotions can drive our behavior, our thinking patterns and our ability to perform in everyday life. Strong emotions can push us to perform beyond our limits or they leave us completely inhibited. They can even lead us to destructive behavior.
In sports, our emotions can make or break our performance. To succeed as a contender, we have to respect the power of our emotions. We have to learn to understand them and to be able to control them and use them to our advantage, instead of letting them get the better of us.
The Effect That Emotions Can Have On Your Body
It is no secret that emotions have physiological effects. We have all felt our heart beat faster when we are nervous and excited, and our eyes well up with tears when we feel overwhelmed. Emotions can affect our bodies in more ways than we realize. Both positive and negative emotions have short and long-term effect on the body and our minds.
Short-Term Physiological Effects of Negative Emotions
Negative Emotions, like fear and anxiety, actually prepare the body for dealing with a possible crisis or danger. The “Fight or Flight” response has many physiological reactions, which are meant to make the body and mind more alert and to provide us with the strength we need to fight or flee. However, sometimes its effects can be counter-productive and undesirable.
The immediate effects of negative emotions like anxiety are:
· Muscle tension
· Elevated heart and breathing rates
· Increased blood flow to the brain and away from other organs
· Frequent urination and diarrhea
Positive emotions, on the other hand, can have the opposite effect. Laughter, for example, can:
· Relieve tension throughout the body and within organs
· Relieve the subsequent side effects of depression and anxiety
· Lower blood pressure
Long-Term Physiological Effects of Negative Emotions
While the physiological effects of some negative emotions can help us to cope initially, the strain of these emotions can have long-term effects. This is especially true if we continually harbor these emotions over time.
The Longer-term physiological effects of emotions include:
· Damage to kidneys
· Digestive and gastrointestinal problems
· Chronic respiratory disorders
· Damage to cardiovascular system
Obviously, we all want to be happier as people! It is beneficial to our health, it uplifts those around us and not to mention it feels great! An upbeat mental attitude, sustained long-term, can lead to improved overall health.
People with sustained upbeat mental states tend to experience:
· Sustained lower blood pressure
· Reduced risk of heart disease and stroke
· Healthier weight
· Better blood sugar levels
· Longer life expectancy
· Improve the immune system
Negative Emotions and How They Impact Our Performance
When things go bad in the ring, it is natural to feel frustration, anxiety, despair and low self-esteem. However, these emotions do more than just make us feel terrible. They can affect our physical and mental ability to perform at our best.
How Negative Emotions Affect Your Physical Performance
Negative emotions such as frustration, anger and anxiety can affect your athletic ability by:
o Causing unwanted muscular tension, which can affect form, speed and agility
o Draining you of your physical energy needed to perform
o Causing breathing difficulties
o Leading to loss of coordination
How Negative Emotions Affect You Mentally
In the ring, you need to be as mentally prepared as you are physically. You need focus, willpower and sheer wit to compete. While some argue that anger can spur you on, negative emotions have proven to do more harm than good to an athlete’s mental faculties. These emotions can:
o Weaken focus and confidence in the ring
o Bring about hostile behavior toward teammates, opponents, coaches and others
o Damage motivation
Positive Emotions and How They Impact Our Performance
For a boxer, nothing beats the euphoria of thriving in the ring. That is the feeling we work for every day.
How Positive Emotions Affect Your Physical Performance
Even when we are not winning, maintaining a positive attitude in the ring can vastly improve our performance. Staying calm, confident and optimistic can:
o Provide energy and help you to push through pain
o Keep your muscles and body more relaxed
o Help your physical endurance as your energy is not being zapped by negative emotions like anxiety and despair
How Positive Emotions Affect You Mentally
o Keep you motivated to win
o Help your confidence
o Keep you calm, centered and focused on the task, rather than getting flustered.
o Help you maintain a positive, pleasant attitude towards opponents, referees and coaches, instead of getting hostile when things do not go your way
Mindfulness Training to Control Our Emotions
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is simply the mental act and ability to bring one’s full attention to the present moment. It means being fully conscious of your surroundings, actions, mental and emotional state at any given time. It is about developing a greater command over your mind and ability to focus. Mindfulness is a skill, which can be developed with time, training and conscious effort.
How Can Mindfulness Help To Improve Our Athletic Performance?
It is easy to become mentally flustered during athletic performances, with dozens of thoughts and strong emotions racing through us.
Developing mindfulness can help to keep us centered and focused. It can help us to be aware of every emotion as it arises and allow us to make conscious decisions as to how to respond to these emotions. It allows more control as we recognize our emotions at an early stage, and can contain them before they escalate beyond our control.
Mindfulness training can make us better athletes by making us mentally stronger, more focused and more coachable.
How to Develop Mindfulness
Meditation is a practice in which we can consciously train the mind to be calm, present and focused. Mindfulness is one of the main objectives of meditation. This makes it perfect for helping us to develop control over our emotions. Regular meditation even has physical health benefits, such as reducing tension and anxiety, lowering heart and breathing rates as well as reducing blood pressure; it can even improve your concentration and memory.
Learning to Meditate and Meditation Techniques
There are many forms of meditation. It does not need to be complicated to be effective.
Basic Meditation: Simply closing your eyes, taking a few deep breaths and wilfully bringing your attention to the present moment is a basic form of meditation.
Assisted Meditation: You can attend many guided meditation classes available near you. You can also download certain meditation apps. Here are a few great apps you can try today:
Developing Physical and Emotional Fitness
As athletes, we are not immune to the effects of emotions on our athletic performances-both positive and negative. We need to be aware of this power if we are to develop a command over it. Just as we have to train our bodies to withstand the physical strain of boxing, we have to develop our minds and develop control over our emotions. This concept is one of the four pillars we apply to our coaching at Gloveworx, and we’d love to help you develop your growth mindset during your next session.