One of the first and most important aspects that I have always tried to reiterate to players when they are signed by their respective clubs at the professional level is that “attitude” is the key ingredient towards earning that elusive professional contract.
Players who come into the academy system are on trial constantly and being in the spotlight and showcasing their talent requires a high degree of mental toughness in working towards achieving the ultimate goal, a professional contract. To instil the mental toughness required to achieve success the philosophy delivered by the assigned Performance Coach is based around the concept of the 4 C’s: Confidence, Commitment, Control and Challenge.
This research was presented at the annual British Association of Sport and Exercise Science Conference (BASES) held at the University of Wolverhampton in 2006.
Recent research has found that emotional intelligence can assist in the regulation of psychological states that facilitate performance (Lane et al., 2005; Journal of Sports Sciences, 23, 1254-1255). Emotionally intelligent athletes have been found to use psychological skills more frequently (Lane & Lowther, 2005, Journal of Sports Sciences, 23, 1253-1254). The aim of the study was to investigate the relationship between emotional intelligence and self-talk associated with successful performance for the role of rugby goal kicking.
With institutional ethics approval five volunteer male rugby goal kickers (19 to 37 years (Mean =28, s =8.4 years). Kicking experience varied from 10 to 30 years (Mean =15.60, s = 8.2 years). Participants completed the 33-item emotional intelligence scale (Schutte et al., 1998; Personality and Individual Differences, 25, 167-177). A single subject multiple-baseline across individuals design was used to examine the effects of the self-talk conditions on performance in relation to emotional intelligence. Performance was assessed using a rugby specific kicking task whilst using a variation of self-talk cues during execution of the players kicking routine.
The results demonstrated that performances were both erratic and declined with the implementation of the self-talk based intervention. Emotional intelligence appeared unrelated to actual performance and improvements in performance for rugby goal kicking. Results indicated that there was great deal of individual variation in improvement.
It appeared that self-talk and emotional intelligence did not positively impact on physical performance but on the mental state of participants for rugby goal kicking early on in performance. It could be that self-reports measures of emotional intelligence that assess the construct in a general sense, rather emotional control in sport lacks sensitivity. It is suggested that interview techniques be used to ascertain a fuller measure of emotional intelligence and how this applies to sport. Such research might not only be associated with enhance applied work, but also provide the basis for the development of a measure of emotional intelligence grounded in the experience of athletes.
The proposed research was presented at the prestigious Stanford University California after winning the only free place offered by the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES).
Research for my doctorate has since focused on the implications of being diagnosed with a genetic condition that if gone undetected can potentially result in sudden cardiac death. High profile athletes to have lost their lives to the condition are inclusive of Marc Vivien-Foe, Cameroon International, Mitchell Cole, Oxford United, and Antonio Puerta, Sevilla FC. For those that are diagnosed it means immediate termination from competitive sporting pursuits and that alone can carry potential emotional and behavioural implications associated with retirement at the elite level. Players to have retired as a direct result of their diagnosis are inclusive of Manuel Almunia former Arsenal FC, Tobi Alabi former Millwall FC, Fabrice Muamba former Bolton Wanderers FC, and Evander Sno former Celtic FC.
Through research we are then able to gain a greater understanding of the potential difficulties an athletic population may face when suffering a non-normative event that is both sudden and life changing. This will allow the athletes support networks and medical personnel to be better equipped at making each stage of the transitional process as smooth as humanly possible.