Keeping your head in the game and managing your emotions may be the difference between your team winning and losing. Losing your cool can lead to unnecessary penalties, fighting opposing players, getting kicked out of games, and being baited by opponents. Anger and frustration can negatively affect your ability to stay cool, which can hurt your team’s success.
This past Sunday, Philadelphia Eagle wide receiver, DeSean Jackson potentially affected the outcome of the game against the San Diego Chargers despite having 9 catches for 191 yards and a touchdown. DeSean Jackson, a second-round 2008 draft pick from University of California, Berkeley and two-time pro bowl selection, has a history of taunting opposing players and unsportsmanlike penalties.
The 26-year old Jackson let his emotions get the better of him at a critical moment of the game which changed the course of the fourth quarter, and ultimately allowed the Chargers to take command of the game. The Eagles scored a touchdown and took a 27-23 lead late in the fourth quarter on Michael Vick 2-yard run.
Jackson lost his cool and engaged in a shoving match pushing a Charger defensive back after Vick scored, resulting in a dead ball, unsportsmanlike 15-yard penalty. Jackson admitted his mistake, “I kind of lost my emotions a little bit. It was just the heat of the moment. I need to do a better job of keeping my emotions in check there. I’ve got to do a better job of keeping my composure.”
The 15-yard penalty assessed on the kickoff and The Eagles were forced to kick off from the 20. The Chargers returned the kickoff to the Eagles’ 39-yard line giving them a short field. The Chargers scored a touchdown on that drive, took the lead 30-27 and, ultimately won the game 33-30. Chip Kelly, Head Coach of the Eagles, emphasized the need for athletes to manage their emotions during games, “You have to play with emotion, not let emotion play with you.”
Michael Vick stressed the importance of remaining calm under pressure, “We all have to learn to be professionals at all time and keep our cool. Sometimes, it’s tough to do, but we all have one common goal — to win the football game. Anything that doesn’t relate to that thinking is irrational thinking.”
How can an athlete manage their emotions?
- Realize the importance of each play. Chip Kelly constantly speaks to his players about the impact each play may have on the result of the game, “One play is the difference in a game and we talked about it all the time. You don’t know when that play is going to impact the game. And we have to understand how important it is to make plays when you have an opportunity to make them.”
- Know where to draw the line. Understand the rules and their consequences.
- Never allow yourself to let an opposing player take you out of the game mentally.
- Use that emotion positively to fuel your efforts on a future play.