Health and Beauty

The influence of emotions in sports

In all sports, whether individual or team, emotions often play a role in improving or limiting performance.

How many times has an athlete felt overwhelming joy after success, or deep sadness mixed with anger after failure?

How many athletes are afraid of defeat and its consequences, afraid of injury, or even afraid of the risks of a sporting event?

Through this article, I will try to make you understand the importance of emotions in sports by first explaining how they work. We will then see what impact they can have on athletic performance, and I will finally introduce you to a technique from hypnosis and NLP for you to manage them.

Definition of emotion

The word “emotion” comes from the Latin word “emovere,” which means to begin to move.

According to Larousse, it is “a sudden disturbance, a temporary agitation caused by a strong feeling of fear, surprise, joy, etc.”

However, despite the fact that every person has already experienced emotion to a greater or lesser extent, it is very difficult to give a completely clear definition of this phenomenon. The emotion is felt and experienced. We go through it every day without being able to put it into words.

So what is emotion?

It is a response to a stimulus external to the individual; An unexpected, surprising or surprising event…but it can also happen without any external element, simply by imagining things or recalling memories.

There are four basic emotions: joy, sadness, fear, and anger, to which surprise and disgust are often added.

They are called Basic feelingsBecause it appears clearly in children, as is the case in primates, but it also appears on the face innately. Regardless of a person's social and cultural environment, these feelings will be present in all individuals.

Basic facial emotions
Illustration credit © Scott McCloud

How does it work in the brain?

Emotions, like many other physical and psychological mechanisms, are controlled by our brain.

Simply put, it is divided into three parts:

  • Reptilian brainResponsible for vital functions such as breathing, heart function, reproduction, regulating body temperature, and others.
  • Limbic systemincluding in particular the amygdala and hippocampus, which are responsible for emotions, behavior (addiction, pleasure), memory…
  • Neocortex, which is divided into two parts. On one side, the right side is more intuitive, emotional, and creative. The left part is logical, theoretical and descriptive.

When information is captured by our different senses, visual, auditory, kinesthetic, olfactory and gustatory, it is transmitted to the brain and more precisely to the limbic system.

First, it reaches the level of the thalamus which has the role of sorting information coming from what has been picked up by our eyes, ears and skin.

This is where emotions arise, when unusual information arrives.

The thalamus then sends it to the amygdala, which will evaluate this information and redirect it to the corresponding area of ​​the brain.

In fact, each sense has a well-defined area. The amygdala is located in a part of the brain near the hippocampus, which is not easy, because it is responsible for memory, and oftentimes, our memories are linked to our emotions.

Finally, the information is transmitted to the hypothalamus, which will regulate vital functions in response to the trigger signal: heart rate and breathing, increase or decrease in body temperature, stomach pain, etc.

What impact does this have on our lives and sports?

In fact, completely unconsciously, our entire lives are influenced by our emotions.

Why ?

Simply because it is one of its basic functions.

It represents a social signal, that is, it will allow us to adapt our behavior and anticipate the actions of others.

The purpose of emotion is to positively influence our survival. It will provide us with the possibility to be alert and make decisions in certain situations.

However, unlike our ancestors, we no longer face the same “risks” in everyday life.

Emotions haven't changed. This is why we can feel fear without necessarily knowing why, before an oral interview or an important meeting.

This situation can lead to a feeling that is very present in our current society: stress.

When playing sports, whether in competition or not, emotions are also present. so why ? Well, because it intervenes with a stimulus that here represents the sporting action, the performance to be achieved, or a set of goals.

By taking into consideration their different experiences, experiences, successes and failures, an athlete will be able to manage their emotions fairly well.

Returning to competition after sustaining a serious injury can cause Fearsor seeing the opponent win every time can create that Anger.

However cheerful Positive past experience, a sense of well-being during adversity as well as family pride can also be factors that will influence the emotional state.

It is often the fantasy about performance that promotes tension or fear.

Many athletes take past mistakes into consideration and think about future events before a race or match.

But few people think about the present moment, the moment when concentration must reach the maximum, when the athlete must mobilize all his abilities.

We will not say that there are good or bad feelings, but simply feelings that will constrain or favor performance.

A successful athlete will be an athlete who is able to learn from his mistakes without fearing them, and to look to the future without being overconfident.

He will be present only in the here and now, focused on his work and what he knows how to do.

By focusing in this way, he will put himself in the best physical, technical, tactical and mental conditions.

How to manage your emotions

I now present to you a simple technique of hypnosis and NLP that you can apply at home or in your practice space, before or during training or competition.

To do this, try to take the emotion you want to change to make it more enjoyable.

  • Sit in a place where you feel comfortable and at ease.
  • Take a moment to take a deep breath, and close your eyes.
  • Now focus on your feelings in your body. Where is it located? With what intensity? How do you feel when you focus on it?
  • Now give it shape, color, size, weight, texture… something that will really define it.
  • Then once you have it and it's a little stronger, change the shape, change the color and weight, make it smaller or bigger. How does this make you feel? What does this change?
  • You can even mentally imagine that these feelings are placed in front of you and that they no longer belong to you. See what it does, adjust as you wish.
  • You can change whatever you want until it becomes comfortable for you.
  • Once you are done, open your eyes and experience what has changed in your practice.
  • welcome back.

This simple exercise will change your perception of emotion and how you feel.

Remember, your imagination will create your reality, so take the time to really feel what is happening to you.

have a nice time.

The influence of emotions in sports

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