Can emotional intelligence help win at sports?

After the NFL team Philadelphia Eagles fired their last head coach, the pro football team's owner Jeffrey Lurie said that “emotional intelligence” was a trait he was looking for in the next man to fill the job. He acknowledged that people laughed about that phrase, but said he felt even more certain that looking for the “real genuineness” that comes with that emotional intelligence paid off.

Of course the Eagles went on to win Super Bow LII under head coach Doug Pederson, who was hired by Lurie in large part for his emotional intelligence.

Recently, Dr. Steven Stein, CEO of Multi-Health Systems and emotional intelligence expert, used The Emotional Quotient Inventory 2.0 model to test emotional intelligence of high performance athletes. He found athletes around the world often score high in the following EQ traits:

  • Self-regard: the ability to know their strengths and weaknesses
  • Self-actualization: doing what they love and continually trying to improve;
  • Flexibility: their ability to learn, change and take direction.

Emotional intelligence is a set of emotional and social skills that influence the way people perceive and express themselves, develop and maintain social relationships, cope with challenges and use emotional information in an effective and meaningful way. And just like the Eagles' Doug Pederson, these skills can be used to coach champions.

Here are some additional skills emotional intelligence can be used for in athletic performance:

Mental Skills

Mental Skills Coaching addresses the mental game of sport. If you've ever wondered how Olympic athletes are able to perform flawlessly under extreme pressure, it's because they have a secret weapon — a mental skills coach.

It teaches athletes psychological skills they can use to better adhere to their exercise programs, and perform well in both training and competition, even (and especially) under adverse conditions.
— Mental Skills Coach Lynda Laham

Mindfulness & Meditation

George Mumford, author of The Mindful Athlete, works with the New York Knicks, and has taught mindfulness techniques to NBA basketball champions such as Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.

“George helped me understand the art of mindfulness. To be neither distracted or focused, rigid or flexible, passive or aggressive. I learned just to be.”
— Kobe Bryant

Self-Awareness & Reframing Anxiety

The 2018 Winter Olympics gold medal champions can attest to learning emotional intelligence-based skills. Many experts agree that a critical foundation to EQ is developing self-awareness.

Being anxious and nervous just means you care. You need to reframe anxiety as normal, then gain control by focusing on the present. If you’re constantly thinking about something other than where you are and what you’re doing, your performance will suffer, whether that’s at work, at home, or in the gym. Having that self-awareness is the first step.
— Dr. Colleen Hacker - Mental Skills Coach USA Women's Hockey Team

Using the Conversational EQ Card Game to Coach Athletes with Emotional Intelligence

Michelle Giangualano, one of our Conversational EQ Certified Trainers, also happens to be a two-time Olympian. Her two sons are now on track to become professional hockey players. Michelle can attest to the importance of emotional intelligence training based upon working with her children and other families of athletes.

Because it is built upon research-based game dynamics, the Conversational EQ card game is a natural fit for use with coaches and athletes. Here are some of the main skills that can be learned playing Conversational EQ:

  • Self-regulation so athletes can stay focused.
  • Increased resilience for performance under pressure.
  • Empathy between coaches and athletes to build trust and chemistry.
  • Communication skills for coaches to ensure athletes respond.
  • Social awareness for athletes on and off the field.
  • Improved relationships and support with and from families of atheletes.
  • Chemistry and synchronization with teammates.
  • Sport-life balance.

Contact us today to learn more about how Conversational EQ can help coach athletes for sport performance.