Emotional Management in Athletes: a Success Factor

The development of emotional factors in the sport context takes on special relevance today, equipping it with the training of physical, technical and tactical factors, because emotional factors are closely related to sports performance.


It is now accepted that emotions influence different areas of life. Specifically, emotions play an important role in the lives of athletes and, directly or indirectly, influence what they want to carry out (Hanin, 2000). That is, emotional management in athletes is important.

The development of emotional factors in the sport context takes on special relevance today, equating it with the training of physical, technical and tactical factors, because emotional factors are closely related to sports performance.

Emotional intelligence is directly and positively related to age, with the collective modalities with contact being those who best manage their emotions (Sánchez, Ortega and Chacón, 2018). On the other hand, note that emotional intelligence is not the opposite of the traditional concept of intelligence, represented in many cases with the intellectual quotient, but its complement.

Emotional management in athletes has become very relevant today.

Although it has been confirmed that emotions are a determining factor in sports performance, this is not one of the pillars of many psychological interventions performed with athletes. This absence can occur for different reasons: ignorance of the application of intervention programs on emotional intelligence, misconceptions about the consideration of this factor – how to think it is an innata non-trainable capacity – or the shortage of training time, between others (Weinberg and Gould, 2010).

“Anger, resentment and jealousy do not change the hearts of others, just change yours.”

-Shannon L. Alder-

Neymar, the player who has not yet learned from frustration

From the Brazilian federation, the lack of a psychologist in the world’s past was suggested as a possible setback. Brazil is one of the pioneering teams in bringing psychologists to soccer world championships; surprisingly, in the last one he was one of the few selections that has not resorted to the figure of a mental health professional. On the other hand, many have pointed out that their star, Neymar, would have benefited a lot from the presence of a competent professional.

He himself has acknowledged, in a public statement, that he has not yet learned to be disappointed and that, when he behaves like an immature athlete, it is not because he is a spoiled boy, but because he has not yet learned to be frustrated.

The points that Neymar points out can be refined with the work of a professional. However, those responsible for setting up the team working for the selection did not realize how important this figure could be to establish guidelines and carry out interventions to channel emotions, both at the group level and at the individual level.

Once the result is known, the exhibition may seem opportunistic; However, both from outside and from within the selection, it was missed that the players had resources so that the pressure did not become a slab.

“It is very important to understand that emotional intelligence is not the opposite of intelligence, it is not the triumph of the heart over the head, it is the intersection of both.”

-David Caruso-

Iniesta, when psychological help arrives on time

Andrés Iniesta himself acknowledged that during 2009-2010 he suffered depression, just after winning everything as a player. He began to find bad, to drag a heavy shadow that could not be delivered. And there began an internal process. He was wrong and did not know why. They did tests where they did not find alterations; however, the reality was that he was not well, and went into a loop. He himself came to recognize that he needed professional help; otherwise, I would not have left that situation.

In his words, regarding the figure of the psychologist:

“That’s what they are for, is not it? To help when you need them. I guess it’s because you do not want to see it. I arrived at a time when I needed help and I had it; There were days when I saw that it did not come out, that I sank in my own person. And I had people who helped me, very valuable people.”

Emotional management in athletes is a key aspect to achieve success and feel good about yourself.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said in 2018 that more than 300 million people in the world suffer from depression and more than 260 million have anxiety disorders. According to a study published by the International Society of affective disorders, more than 10% of the adult population in Spain has suffered.

In the last decade, science has discovered the role that emotions play in our lives. Researchers have found that the good or bad that we are managing emotions will significantly influence the future we build, even more than the IQ itself.

And this rule also works in an increasingly professionalized sport and that the small differences that we find, such as emotional management in athletes, are marked by the factors that we incorporate into the equation, beyond physical training.

“I was looking forward to the night so I could take a pill and rest. What moves us? The illusion, the feelings, the desire … But in a situation like that you have nothing.”

-Andres Iniesta-