Controlling Emotions in Sport

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Marc V. Jones Staffordshire University

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Emotions play a central role in sport performance. Accordingly, it is important that athletes are able to draw on a range of strategies to enhance emotional control. The present paper outlines a number of strategies based on Lazarus’ cognitive-motivational-relational theory of emotion. Strategies are outlined that aim to change cognitions, resulting in either a more appropriate emotional response or a suppression of the expression of emotion and any maladaptive behavioral consequences. These techniques comprise self-statement modification, imagery, socratic dialogue, corrective experiences, self-analysis, didactic approach, storytelling metaphors and poetry, reframing, cognitive paradox, and use of problem-solving skills. Furthermore, given the changes in physiological arousal accompanying certain emotions, it is also suggested that general arousal control strategies could play an important role in emotional control.

The author is with the Sport, Health and Exercise Department in the School of Health, Staffordshire University, Stoke-on-Trent, United Kingdom. E-mail:

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