Do you or someone you know lose emotional control easily in competition? Some athletes lose their composure after they make a mistake, someone on their team makes a mistake, or the referee makes a bad call. To gain maximum composure you must accept that you are going to make mistake and experience setback in sports.
When you do make a mistake it is important to have a strategy that helps you regain your composure. You need to be more accepting of mistakes and encourage yourself to move forward – focusing on the next play, shot, race, or routine.
The first step to improving your composure is to identify the mental breakdowns that cause you to lose emotional control in sports. For example, an athlete with very high expectations for his performance is likely to become easily frustrated, lose control emotionally, when he believes that those expectations are not being met.
Below is a list of the top mental errors that cause athletes to lose their composure.
1. Perfectionism — When you don’t perform perfectly you lose composure because you become frustrated and then focus too much on your errors instead of the tasks needed to perform well.
2. Social approval or worrying too much about what others think — Worrying too much or mind reading into how you think others may judge you distracts you from your performance. You lose composure because you are too concerned with how others may perceive your performance.
3. Irrational Beliefs — Irrational beliefs cause you to stay stuck in old, ineffective patterns of behavior.”I will never get a hit,” or “I have to get a hit or everyone will hate me.”
4. Fear of Failure – Fear is based on your intense need to win and causes you to worry too much about losing or failing. This can lead to you play defensive and tentative instead of composed and free.
5. Dwelling on Errors — When you get too caught up in mistakes and dwell them, it becomes easier to get frustrated and lose emotional control, which will not help you stay composed after errors.
We teach our athletes the 3 R’s for composure to help them maintain composure after making a mistake or error.
The 3 R’s for composure stand for: Recognize–Regroup–Refocus.
The first step is to Recognize that you are dwelling on the mistake, which limits your ability focus on the next play.
The next task is to Regroup by interrupting the chain of thought. This requires you to battle your own emotions and dispute your irrational thinking. For example you may say, “I’m a hitter, stay patient and wait for my pitch.”
The last step and most crucial is to Refocus on the next play. Ask yourself what you need to focus on right now to do your best on the next play? The answer will help you refocus on the task-relevant cues for the next play.