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Emotional factors that impact performance

Watch this to unpack emotional factors that impact performance for Higher PE (and why getting angry can be a big problem)

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Emotions can be very powerful.

Human interactions and intense situations can have big impacts on your body chemistry. From the euphoria of endorphin release, to the surge of energy-fueling adrenaline caused by pain, fear or anger.

These emotions not only affect how we feel but how we physically act. In the short term, they can change concentration, strength, focus, even blood supply.

So what does this mean for athletes and for people studying Higher PE? Well, how you manage emotions can be the make-or-break difference between winning or losing.

So lets focus...

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Anger is a strong, uncomfortable emotion after being provoked. It serves to raise blood pressure, heart rate, respiration and temperature. Adrenaline and cortisol are released into the body.

Anger can be useful in sport in the right situation but more often than not it is how you control aggression that makes the difference.

Misdirection of emotion can take many forms. It could be a player negatively shouting at themselves after a bad shot, physically lashing out or even over-exerting themselves in a skill such as a tennis player increasing the power of their next serve to the extent that accuracy is lost.

The ability to control frustration and anger comes from practice of the situation – normalizing the feeling whilst controlling the response.

Let’s look at an example of how a Higher PE student might refer to emotional control in their own work:

Being able to control my emotions positively impacted my performance when I was being criticized and singled out by a part-time coach for my football team. I was able to channel this frustration towards higher intensity training as I was determined to demonstrate my ability and fitness. As a result, I became more motivated, determined and gave everything I had to fulfill my roles and strategic responsibilities on the pitch. My response was noted by the other coaches and I was given leadership roles as a consequence and my performance was enhanced.

It is also useful to acknowledge when the impact of emotions has a negative impact upon performance.

In a basketball competitive fixture I felt a foul was wrongly called against me by the referee. This negatively impacted my performance as I allowed my frustration to overwhelm me. I focused on challenging the decision and I received a warning card. I found it difficult to retain my focus and my attention to fulfilling my strategic roles was lost. I was supposed to be man-marking and my opponent got away from me.

In both cases, the impact of emotional strain is acknowledged and the impacts on performance is clearly explained.

So what can you use to turn this emotion into a positive impact on your performance?

Self-talk can be a very useful approach to performance development. Sometimes well-practiced phrases can be used to reset after an emotional response.

When you lose a point in tennis, think back over your rally and recognise where the problem arose. This could be a technical point in terms of hitting the ball to the wrong place, poor footwork or loss of concentration. Regroup your thoughts to avoid distractions and remove the pressure. Finally, refocus for the next rally.

There are a wide range of variables that can impact upon us on a daily basis. How we react to these variables can also vary. We must learn to control areas of our lives that we have power to change.

In the context of PE, as we walk onto the pitch, we can control our emotions but only if we train to cope with them. You can control your actions, your thoughts, your reactions . You can’t control the referee, the weather or the surface.

If you are able to recognise, regroup and refocus, under pressure, you will increase the likelihood of a positive outcome.

So keep a cool head, whatever happens. And if you can’t, channel the energy positively.

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