How to Master Your Emotions

tennis player frustrated

One of the most common questions asked at SPMI is why do some athletes get so emotional when under pressure? 

First, we must look at the root of an emotional response. Science has discovered that the number #1 reason why athletes have emotions is due to Survival. Emotions are there to help individuals survive because they help prepare the body for action.

Unfortunately, in sports, negative emotions are rarely beneficial. Strong negative emotions disrupt an athlete's focus and in many cases confidence. In fact, most negative emotions are completely unnecessary in sports because there is little to no physical threat involved.

For example, outside of sports a person may scream if they are being attacked by a grizzly bear while camping. The scream then notifies others around that something is terribly wrong and may even scare away the bear. But in the athletic arena, grizzly bears are no where to be found. This same emotional response is nothing more than a false alarm. So how do we train our mind to overcome unwanted emotional responses?

Below are 3 tips to help athletes master emotional emotional control under pressure.  

Tip 1: Focus on deactivation first. Many coaches and parents make the mistake of focusing on why athletes are so emotional. But that is not the source of how to stop the negative response. This is because most emotional responses are deeply ingrained habits among the neural network of the brain. Athletes need to first work on the deactivation stage. This involves how to calm the mind once the emotional response occurred. Athletes must develop structured routines that center on letting go of the mistake and returning to a positive state. 

Tip 2: Breathe. Breathing is one of the most powerful skills to calming the immediate emotional response. By practicing breathing immediately following every emotional response the athlete is training their body to associate those moments with calm feelings as well as slow down their heart rate and get more oxygen to the blood. More oxygen to the blood allows for better decision making and increased emotional control. 

Tip 3: Become the leader of your thoughts. To increase deactivation, athletes must work on recognizing and challenging untrue thoughts that may be going through their mind. Athletes may do this by reassuring themselves in their head that "everything is okay" or "you don't know that, I am still in this." By making positive statements, athletes challenge the negative thoughts immediately and replace them with a winning mindset. 


Practice these 3 essential tips and start improving your emotional control today. To learn more about how SPMI improves mental toughness in athletes please click on the link below and schedule your free meeting.