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The Key to Composure in Sports

The Key to Composure in Sports

The first step to improve 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 can reduce your 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.

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.

8. 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.

Here are some tricks for helping you re-gain composure in competition

To gain maximum composure in competition you must accept that you are going to make mistake and experience setback in competitions. Remember you are human and that you can’t be perfect. Learn to be more accepting of mistakes and encourage the ability to move forward and focus on the next play, shot, race, or routine. When you do make a mistake have a strategy that helps you regain composure.

We teach 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.


  1. Thanks for this article, I will be sharing this with my very self critical 15 year old, who is so afraid of coaches that her play reflects that fear. She knows her sport and used to love playing, recent events at her high school with coaches have changed that. Politics play a stronger role in who plays than players abilities and my daughter received a text message the day of a game from her coach telling her she wasn’t to come? she was never told why and wasnt clear on whether to show up for practices and games. Future experiences, showed that she was being pushed off a team that she had worked years(6) to play on. she had won her spot on the team and without warning she was being kicked off for no reason. With more experience and being team captain at school the past three years, playing club year round…she was replaced with 2 girls who have never played before, we are at a loss. As parents do we step in politically or do we at this age step back and let her fend for herself with this coach?

  2. Politics does play a role in high school sports. The coaches at high school level are just a step above youth volunteer coaches but you wouldn’t know it by some of their egos. I think you have a right as a parent to ask nicely why she is being dropped if that is the case. Don’t expect to get the answer you think-they will cite ability and their opinion. Recently the football coach too over the basketball team where one of my kids goes and yep, he just took all his football buddies.
    For recourse you may have to look at switching schools. Then there is always club.

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