Novak Djokovic told New york times- `Physically there is not much difference between the 78 and number 1, 2 or 5. Everybody works for hours and hours on the court. It is the mental ability to handle pressure, to play well at the right moments and that’s the difference with the top 10 players.’
Even Rafael Nadal echoed with the same feeling when he said – `If you watch a number 10 or the number 500 in training you will not be able to tell who is up on the rankings. Without pressure of competition they will move and hit the ball the same way.’
`The ability to handle pressure and not just physical skills, is what separates the best from the merely talented is what Karen Crouse wrote for the New York Times Service under the heading The difference is all in the head.’
If the ability to handle pressure and emotions is what discriminates the winner from the loser, what does the lack of it do for the losers during the heat of the moment? –It can cause psychological and physiological changes like muscle tension, fatigue, low energy and serious negative emotions like anger.
Does that mean that the winners never feel pressure and the ensuing emotions? No, everybody goes through them but the Elite have gone through The Grind and know what it takes to handle pressure and resulting Emotions and how not to be bothered by them.
Today, when you see Roger Federer, unfazed by any match situation: you are awe struck with his ability to manage emotions and bounce back to the game. In the recently concluded Wimbledon Tournament, which Roger won, I saw, while he was serving and whenever he was 0-30 down: he was not cowed down but served perfect aces to make it 30-30.
He is now the complete champion who is always calm, cool and in emotional control with himself. And this did not come simply- he had to work on himself for this transition from a racquet throwing youngster to a calm guy that he is today. Watch this video:-
Our emotions have a major role to play in any performance. It largely depends on how much our thought, feelings and actions are positive.
Though emotions like anger and anxiety are useful to a little extent too much of it can debilitate performance. An emotion is defined as a subjective conscious experience characterised by psycho-physiological expressions, biological reactions and mental states.
It is influential with mood, temperament, personality disposition and motivation. It is also influenced by hormones and neurotransmitters like dopamine, noradrenalin, serotonin, cortisol and GABA [ source-WIKIPEDIA].
Normally thoughts gives rise to feelings which when stimulated gives rise to emotion associated with action. An emotion is a reaction to a stimulus which can either be real or imagined.
We normally see it is not just the athletes who undergo emotions- coaches, parents, officials and spectators can also get very emotional during competitions.
Three important factors necessary to understand emotions:
- 1. What triggers an emotion?
- 2.How the body and mind respond to this stimulus and express their reaction.
- 3.How these responses make us to experience the emotion further.
We are normally governed by four primary emotions liker Fear, Anger, Sadness and joy.
Who is an emotionally intelligent athlete?
- One who responds to a situation with the right positive emotion.
- One who regulates emotions well.
- One who uses mental skills like imagery, self-talk, deep breathing & other techniques to regulate emotions.
- One who can be mentally tough and does not allow his emotions to harm his performance.
- Does not show emotions during pressure situations.
Strategies for emotional regulation
- Deep breathing and relaxation techniques, flooding, systematic de-sensitization & self-hypnosis
- Positive self-talk and affirmations
- Imagery for control of emotions
- General anger management techniques
- Music therapy & Meditation
- Physical exercises.
- Body massage.
- Counselling and psychotherapy.
To know more about EMOTIONS IN SPORTS- Read my bestselling book- SUCCESS MANTRAIN SPORTS- Sold online through Amazon & Flipkart.