How Does Emotional IQ Play into Sports?

What a difference a few days can make.

As we left the soccer game on Wednesday, my daughter was in tears. “I played terribly”, she cried. We asked her why she felt that way. “I felt sluggish and tired. I just couldn’t move.”

I can’t say that I disagreed with her - it was not her best game, but it wasn’t the best game for the team all around. It could have been the fact is was a mid-week, evening game. Maybe it was because they had played four games over a 6-day period. Who knows?

Fast forward to today. It was a tough & aggressive team, but my daughter was dialed in. She is tenacious when she’s on, and she was on today. They put her in goal for a bit - she missed one but then blocked everything else.

After the game, she was all smiles and said, “I think I played really well today!” When we pressed her for more, she explained that she was mad after the one goal was scored and used that anger to focus better. Outside of goal, she was amazing as a defender and helped her team secure a 3-2 win.

When we’re talking with our young, competitive daughters, it’s important to address the bad emotions and the good. I’m all for “Good Vibes Only”, but sometimes only replying with a positive, “No, you did great! It was just a really hard game”, isn’t helpful.

We hear about social-emotional learning in the classroom, but it’s just as important to cultivate in sports.

Letting our kids tap into the emotions that they are feeling on the field and around games is an important part of their performance development. It feeds the mental skills and resilience, and also give them a place to focus their physical practice to improve. Acknowledging and discussing the more negative thoughts is different than berating them and only pointing out what they did wrong. What I’m talking about is a child-led conversation with maybe some parental insights sprinkled in.

It’s all about balance.

I’ve always lived by this rule as an athlete:

  • On my bad days, I still find one thing that I did well to celebrate, and then 1-2 things to focus on for the next week.
  • On my good days, I celebrate, but then find 1-2 things that I could do even better to focus on for the next week.

The better things don’t have to be something that we’re struggling with personally either. It could be a move, shot, or strength of another player that we would love to have in our own toolbox.

How do you support your daughter's emotional IQ & resilience in her sport? How do you support your own in your athletic endeavors? Let us know in the comments!

Categories: mental wellness, mindet, performance

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