Sport Psychology – How Does Emotion Affect Performance?

London Life Coach & Sports Performance Coach Sloan Sheridan-Williams talks about sport psychology, emotion and performance. Follow Sloan on Twitter @SloanSW_London and check out Sloan’s website

If you have read my first article for City Connect in this field you will know that I have been working in Sports Psychology for a number of years now, triggered by my love of rowing and tennis which both tend to get a tad competitive. With the Olympics 2012 coming up, the demand for sports psychology has dramatically increased enabling me to work with some fabulous individuals in this arena and I thought I would share some of my knowledge with you here on City Connect.

What is the key thing I need to work on to facilitate a change in my performance?

Although this is aimed in particular to the query sent through our Q+A page, it applies to a lot of people so I have written a whole article on it.

Emotion is seen as the component that can make or break a performance. In fact it is often referred to as the key component which will facilitate or restrict any athlete’s flow of potential and ultimately their performance.

As we have seen in my other articles to date, in any given event a person’s performance is determined by not only their talents, information and skill set but by the way they feel about all the aspects of their event they are performing in and their life in general. It is thus governed by emotion and belief. Those athlete’s who have an unshakeable belief in themselves go on to acquire the best results.

This is because both the fear of failure and the fear of success itself can short out a person’s circuits. Tadd to that the emotion of anger and one can find themselves a long way off their goal point..  In some circumstances even fear of actual physical pain can also short circuit success. This is why in short I would argue that emotion is the key component to an athlete reaching his/her true potential. We have seen that negative emotions can short circuit performance and hinder goals and we also know that emotions tend to creep up on us at the best of times more so when there are 1000’s of eyes on you and the pressure of your next signing bonus is in the back of your mind. Being able to control one’s emotions, readjust negative self beliefs and control our response to pressure is a winning formula to the success you have always wanted.

We can definitely conclude that fear is a limiting emotional pattern as it prevents one reaching their full potential and ultimate performance capability, but then how does one achieve success. It goes back to the basic formula for achievement (as we saw in my first article) is based on developing one’s own success consciousness, i.e. having a clear idea of what you want to achieve and that which you desire. The key component here is not only believing that you can achieve it but the I can and I will determination you exhibit coupled with an unshakeable belief in yourself. This behaviour is guaranteed to result in achievement.

Emotion is paired with self image and belief and one’s self image is seen as the most complex of attitudes for the very fact that it has been inbuilt into one’s mental processes over a long period of time by a variety of sources not all positive and nurturing. It is because of this that perceptions of oneself are generally distorted. As humans, our brains don’t objectively analyse facts but we bring emotions into our interpretations along with others opinions which also rely on their emotions, perceptions and baggage, unfortunately that baggage is not Louis Vuitton!

I would say more often than not a person’s belief system could be seen as being unreliable because thought processes which have been built, strengthened and adjusted over the years of self image have not been an accurate record.  I am often quoted as saying “Perception is Everything” and here is a good example of that in application as the perception given to you by others can be very different from objective analysis of the facts. Unfortunately, the brain tends to believe what it hears on repeat allowing distortion of facts due to compounding of information by environment, media and self belief.  However, with the right mental attitude you can use this to your advantage with positive affirmations to reinstil a positive unshakeable belief in yourself. If you are feeling adventurous in your affirmations throw in a little joy and harmony and you have most of the key ingredients for successful employment of mind power. This is because joy is considered a lubricant of the mind allowing muscles, nerves and heart to function at optimum. It is thought to flow through entire being, toning a person up and making for quick responsive co-ordination. Joy works with body, mind and soul to produce rhythmic flow enabling perfect timing and attunement resulting in a superior skill set working at optimum.

I would finish here by saying, success is achieved only by those who try, the fact that you are reading this article shows that you are already on the road to upping your game by employing mind training as well as physical training.

If you wish to pose a question about your particular sport or an aspect of it then either put a comment below, contact me directly or submit an anonymous question through our Q+A page.


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About Sloan Sheridan-Williams

Sloan Sheridan-Williams is currently known for her work as one of the leading “diagnostitians in the complementary therapy world” with a wealth of experience from over a decade of practice. Sloan was originally known in her capacity as an experienced therapist and success coach, but she is impossible to pigeon hole. Over the last 15 years, she has had the opportunity to work in many different arenas from legal to political, medical to media, and corporate to academia. Educated at Oxford University where she originally read Medicine, Sloan then attended University College London before converting to Law studying at the College of Law. Sloan continued her education at Hertfordshire University and then at King’s College London, to name but a few. Sloan has enough experience of someone twice her age. Sloan has collaborated with some of the finest institutions in the country, if not the world and has had the pleasure to work with some very talented individuals taking them to even greater heights. She now writes as Sloan on numerous projects, while still finding the time to continue as a therapist and coach. On a slight tangent to her medical background, her side interest is Medical Ethics, in which she acquired a Masters of Law. In her spare time, when she is not fundraising for numerous charities or coaching rowing, Sloan is often seen debating with the best on topical issues. Visit and follow Sloan on Twitter @SloanSW_London
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