How to Control Your Emotions When Playing Sports

football player on bended knees

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In January 2017, in a game against UAB, Louisiana Tech was left with just 4 players when the rest of the team was ejected. In a number of situations, the acclaimed soccer player Luis Suarez has bitten players of opposing teams in the heat of the moment.
These are all scenarios where sports players allowed their emotions get the better of them during various games. In this article, you will find tips that will help you understand how to control your emotions when playing a sport.

1. Breathe

football player on bended knees
Image Source: Pexels

Your coach is yelling in the background, saying that you are not moving fast enough. One of your team members cannot just seem to pass the ball even when you are absolutely open and to top it off, a player in the opposing team just elbowed you. Frustration and anger are all you can feel, and you need to let it out on another person.
However, no good will come out of that, so to leash your emotions, take a minute, block everyone out, and listen to yourself breathe. Take deep breaths in and out and listen to the whoosh of the air as it flows in and out of your body. Breathing helps let out negative emotions and coordinates your body and brain. When you have established a rhythm in your breathing, you will realize that you are calmer and less likely to elbow your opponent back, which will save everyone trouble and time.

2. Channel the Energy

Establishing a breathing rhythm calms you and helps you think about the situation more clearly, but it does not give you a channel to release the energy that you have build up. The second tip on how to control your emotions is the channeling of the energy in a way that is beneficial to you and your team.
Did you know that your emotions are controlled by the limbic system? This is why when you are angry, nervous, or agitated, your hands or feet are never calm. After calming yourself, channel your emotions by using the energy to move your feet and hands into action. Run faster, throw farther, and hit harder. With your emotions in check, you can coordinate your moves better, and this ultimately results in a better game for your team.

3. Try to Understand the Other Person

Emotions tend to give the impression that you are right and everyone else is wrong. All you can see is how your opponent elbowed you unfairly, how your teammate is inconsiderate, and how your coach is unfair. Alternatively, you can put yourself in their shoes and try and understand how they are thinking.
Your coach probably sees the potential in your speed, and by shouting, he is just trying to get your attention. The reason your teammate is not passing the ball is that you are not beckoning or asking for it and your opponent may have thought he was just shoving you out of the way lightly to get to the ball.
By rationalizing their thinking, you understand their moves, and this reduces the chances of you blowing up on them.

4. Communicate

Communication is key when learning how to control your emotions during a game. Shouting at your teammate in an angry voice while asking him to pass you the ball immediately might lead to discord. Instead, wait until half time or at the end of the game. Afterward, approach them and inform them calmly that during the next match, he should pass you the ball when you are open.
Moreover, during the game, you can call out to your teammate and ask them to pass you the ball. Alternatively, you can use predetermined gestures to communicate. The bottom line is that you should never keep anything bottled up because it will result in growing resentment for the other person, which can result in blow-ups that may cause discord.

rugby players discussing
Image Source: DepositPhotos

5. Ignore the Expectations

This tip on how to control your emotions is for internal anxiety and nervousness. When you get into a game, there is a level of expectation your teammates, your coach, and even your family and fans have. They might expect you to make the highest number of scores or run the fastest.
As soon as you get into the playing field, zone out these expectations. Don’t think about what others think about your speed, technique, or scores. Concentrate on the game instead. The fans might also be distracting; even though their cheers might give you a boost of energy and adrenaline, ensure that you don’t dwell on it.
Finally, there are expectations that you have for yourself. Perfection is not possible, so go into the game aiming to play your best. Expectations of perfection will only make you think that you are playing sub-standardly; this may result in the loss of composure.

6. Purge the Fear

The fear of failure is one of the most unbalancing emotions a player can experience in a game. It is caused mostly by the intense need to win and taming it is an important element when learning how to control your emotions. Granted, sports are all about winning, there are always two outcomes to a game; winning and losing. At any one time, you can be in either of the sides, so learning how to control your emotions is essential.
Therefore, instead of being afraid of losing, channel your emotions to wanting to emerge victorious. Note that there is a difference between wanting and needing to win. Wanting to win means you are motivated positively to win. Needing to win, on the other hand, means that you are afraid of losing, hence motivated by the negative emotions of fear. This may result in a highly defensive game that is not emotionally composed.

Summing Up

Sports are some of the most emotionally-charged activities. This means that there are a lot of raw emotions floating around a field, court, or race track at any particular time. If such feelings are used inappropriately, they might lead to unwanted consequences, such as physical harm to other players. The tips above on how to control your emotions are priceless for anyone who wants to participate in sports actively but keep feelings in check.

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