Competitive Fight + Emotional Control = Competitive Balance
I wrote an article for ADDvantage USPTA (United States Professional Tennis Association) a few years ago that addressed the issue of competitive balance when an athlete participates in competitive sports.
I have used this “equation” with both my boys’ and girls’ tennis teams each season. In late May of this year our boys high school tennis team won it’s third consecutive Missouri state title. One of the things we discussed from a sport psychology perspective is this idea of being in balance emotionally. We had a couple guys on our team that would win a ball slam invite tournament when they got upset. Not only do you subject your team to being penalized, you also hurt your own cause to manage the situation. The player becomes at least temporarily out of control.
Consequently, it’s important for the athlete to maintain their composure and to have “emotional control.” A physiological way to do this is to focus on your breathing. Take a re-centering breath or two to calm down and refocus on the here and now. But emotional control is not enough for performing in your upper range. Athletes need to have competitive fight in order to compete to the best of their ability. Once our guys bought into “competitive balance” they elevated their play to another state title. The outcome is not guaranteed, but the elevated play becomes very likely.