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Don’t Get Emotional

Updated: Aug 12, 2022

Emotion influences the thoughts and behavior of people in performance settings with a person's underlying emotional processes being expressed physiologically through the cardiovascular and central nervous systems in addition to hormonal and skeletal-muscular activity. Which of those physiological systems or activities is most influential on performance

outcomes? Why?





Emotion influences the thoughts and behavior of people in performance settings with a person's underlying emotional processes being expressed physiologically through the cardiovascular and central nervous systems in addition to hormonal and skeletal-muscular activity. Which of those physiological systems or activities is most influential on performance

outcomes? Why?


I absolutely love this question. As a strength and conditioning professional, I have a unique viewpoint on this particular question. When one starts talking about the central nervous system, it is primarily composed of the brain and spine. During performance, particularly of athletic nature, the actual brain and spinal regions are not necessarily 'loaded'; for the majority of time (even for physically exhausting sports such as football).


The climax of such emotional drain happens when the athlete is stressed not only physically, but hormonally and emotionally as well. Much of the time, even the mere perception of adversity is enough to eradicate hope and high levels of aptitude/execution in the mind of a performer. Every type of performance, whether a musical, athletic, or tactical requires the performer to overcome an obstacle at least once, if not repeatedly over a prolonged period of time. According to Baechle and Earle (2008), an athlete who is performing in a non-anxious state, arousal is under control and can be elevated or lowered as necessary. Furthermore, for

the athlete who is performing in state anxiety, their arousal is reasonably uncontrolled leading to tight skeletal muscles, erratic heart rate, and negative thoughts.



“The climax of such emotional drain happens when the athlete is stressed not only physically, but hormonally and emotionally as well.”

To properly answer this discussion question, we have to understand who the actual performer is (ie, neurosurgeon, athlete, musician), the length of performance, the environment, and then work backwards. In the case of the athlete, there is undoubtedly a hormonal and skeleto-muscular component that is constantly present during the span of competition. Furthermore the cardiovascular system and all subsequent energy systems in the human body are being placed under tremendous amounts of stress. In a study done by MCaul and colleagues (1979), it was shown that slowing down breathing rate actually reduced arousal, and we know that arousal is directly related to heart rate. In my opinion, cardiovascular control through the management of arousal is the singular most important thing to control as a performer to influence outcomes.



References:

Baechle, T.R., Earle, R.W. Essentials of Strength and Conditioning (2008). National Strength and Conditioning Association. 3 rd Edition, Champaign, IL. Human Kinetics


McCaul, K. D., Solomon, S., & Holmes, D. S. (1979). Effects of paced respiration and expectations on physiological and psychological responses to threat. Journal Of Personality And Social Psychology, 37(4), 564-571. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.37.4.564




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