Good mood boosts sporting chances

31 January 2012

Good mood boosts sporting chances

Dr Paul McCarthy

Elite sportsmen and women could watch comedy sketches before competing to elicit the right kinds of positive emotions which, scientists believe, might help them perform better.
     
More tried and tested techniques, such as listening to uplifting music, setting goals or relaxation sessions could also be used to ensure sports stars are in the best possible emotional state before taking to the field. 
     
Dr Paul McCarthy, Lecturer in Psychology at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU), has recently completed a review which argues that positive emotions are under-utilised in sport. 
     
The article, ‘Positive emotion in sport performance: current status and future directions’ was published in the prestigious International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology journal last year. 
     
Dr McCarthy said emotions such as courage, hope, happiness and pride aren’t just the by-product of doing well in an event – such as scoring a goal, or winning a race – but are key to an athlete performing at their very best from the start. 
     
He suggested research into emotion in sport has been dominated by work on anxiety and other negative emotions, and how to control them. He said further research should focus more on exploring the exact effects of positive emotions on performance.  
   
Dr McCarthy said we still don’t understand exactly why positive emotions work in sports performance, but that more could be done to help instil these emotions in athletes before major events. 
     
He said: “Positive emotions might be the catalysts of excellence in sport and deserve space on our workbenches if we are to raise the level of competitive performance among sport performers. There are a variety of ways to elicit these emotions, dependent on the athletes themselves, but watching a favourite comedy sketch or a film is certainly one of them.
     
“Many emotions remain in the margins of sport emotion research, such as courage, hope, happiness, pride and, to a lesser extent, passion, that are customary in the language of managers, coaches, and sport performers. When more is known about these emotions, more will be known about positive emotions in sport performance.”

Elite sportsmen and women could watch comedy sketches before competing to elicit the right kinds of positive emotions which, scientists believe, might help them perform better.

More tried and tested techniques, such as listening to uplifting music, setting goals or relaxation sessions could also be used to ensure sports stars are in the best possible emotional state before taking to the field. 

Dr Paul McCarthy, Lecturer in Psychology at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU), has recently completed a review which argues that positive emotions are under-utilised in sport.      

The article, ‘Positive emotion in sport performance: current status and future directions’ was published in the prestigious International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology journal last year. 
     
Dr McCarthy said emotions such as courage, hope, happiness and pride aren’t just the by-product of doing well in an event – such as scoring a goal, or winning a race – but are key to an athlete performing at their very best from the start. 
     
He suggested research into emotion in sport has been dominated by work on anxiety and other negative emotions, and how to control them. He said further research should focus more on exploring the exact effects of positive emotions on performance.  
   
Dr McCarthy said we still don’t understand exactly why positive emotions work in sports performance, but that more could be done to help instil these emotions in athletes before major events. 
     
He said: “Positive emotions might be the catalysts of excellence in sport and deserve space on our workbenches if we are to raise the level of competitive performance among sport performers. There are a variety of ways to elicit these emotions, dependent on the athletes themselves, but watching a favourite comedy sketch or a film is certainly one of them.
     
“Many emotions remain in the margins of sport emotion research, such as courage, hope, happiness, pride and, to a lesser extent, passion, that are customary in the language of managers, coaches, and sport performers. When more is known about these emotions, more will be known about positive emotions in sport performance.”

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