Maintaining an Emotional Balance for Athletes

Keeping an Even Keel in Sports

How to Keep an Even Keel During Competition

It is not easy to control your emotions and maintain composure during a competition, although it’s extremely necessary if you are to continue developing your game…

There are many things that can knock you off your game:

  • A bad routine for a gymnast
  • A slump for a baseball player
  • A string of missed shots for a basketball player
  • Losing your serve for a tennis player
  • A double bogey for a golfer
  • A soccer goalie letting in a bad goal

“Even Keel” Refers to Maintaining an Emotional Balance

An even keel is when you don’t get too high when you are doing well and not getting too low when you hit rough patches during the competitive season.

Miami Heat point guard, Tyler Johnson, has dedicated much of his time in the NBA to learning to keep an even keel through the ups and downs of an 82 game season.

Johnson was overlooked by every team in the 2014 NBA draft…

As an undrafted rookie, Johnson played for the Miami Heat in the 2014 NBA Summer League. A few months later, Johnson was waived by the Heat and was chosen to play in the Development League.

In 2015, Johnson signed a 10-day contract but was not retained by the Heat after the contract expired. Two weeks later, Johnson signed a two-year deal with the Heat and has ramped up his efforts ever since to raise his game to the next level.

Johnson has fought through two injuries (a broken jaw and shoulder injury) but, in 2016, Johnson signed a four-year 50 million dollar contract with the Heat.

Johnson knew if he was to take his game to the next level, he would need the ability to maintain an even-keel… And he has!

Each of his three seasons, Johnson has seen his minutes per game increase and he has responded by bettering his points per game each year with a career high average of 13.7 in his third year.

JOHNSON: “I think that’s probably the biggest thing I’ve been needing — the mental aspect of the game. I think physically I have the tools to be a really good player in this league. It’s just mentally staying with it. It’s such a long season. There’s going to be so many ups and downs, but all the great players talk about having that even-keel, not getting too high or too low on themselves. It’s something I’ve been working on.”

Just like Johnson has made the commitment to work on his mental game, you can too.

By taking the first step towards staying composed and emotionally balanced, you can be more productive and consistent throughout the season.

Tips to Keep an Even Keel During Competition:

Your outlook matters more than your in-look. If you are able to keep a positive perspective, you are in better position to play at your peak.

Athletes get in trouble when they turn inward and get tangled up in their intense emotions.

1. Recognize your triggers for negative emotions.

What sets you off? Do you get upset or down after mistakes, bad calls, or rude opponents?

2. Learn to change your reaction to these triggers.

For example, a bad call by an official is just a fact in which you don’t have be upset about. Change your reaction to change your emotion…

Instead of dwelling on “that’s unfair and will hurt my chances of winning,” you might change to: “That’s just one call over a long game. The refs decision is out of my control. Accept it an move on.”

3. To keep momentum on your side, keep your over excitement in check and keep playing the same game that got you into that position.

You should be the master of your emotions rather than your emotions dictating how you perform.

Start by learning how to overcome mistakes with “The Composed Athlete.”

Related Sports Psychology Articles:

Free Mental Toughness Reports

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