Emotional maturity is essential for maximum sports performance


MAY 2015 – In order for an athlete to display maximum sports performance at any level, it is essential to cultivate and display emotional maturity, the ability to use logical thoughts to make mature decisions during competition.

Specifically, being a successful Major League Baseball player requires an ability to handle the ebb and flow of the difficult job with emotional maturity.

Every MLB player should want to be respected by fellow teammates and opponents but, as baseball fans saw during several Kansas City Royals games in April, getting respect through displays of emotional immaturity can get ugly. 

The display of emotional maturity, or the lack of, definitely played a role in the on-field performance. Waking up the other team through actions of emotional immaturity and getting even right away can backfire.

In my 16-year pro baseball career emotional maturity was probably the most difficult “ability” for me to acquire. A player must play with high emotion. It was much easier for me to practice my offense and defense than it was to train my emotions.

Cultivating maturity as an athlete begins when a child enters the world of competitive sports. The maturing process never stops. All athletes, whether young or old, who can keep emotions in check during competition have a better chance to succeed.

In a game against the A’s at Kauffman Stadium last April, A’s base runner Brett Lawrie performed a legal, but hard slide into second base and, in the process, hurt the leg of the Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar, who was forced out of the game and missed the next two games.

Both sides knew that slide was “dirty” and that a payback was going to take place at some point. In MLB, there is an unwritten rule that states that any team can and will get “even” with an opponent that “plays dirty.”  This getting even process can happen sooner or later but, eventually, the offending party will “pay” their debt.

surplusexchange.orgWhen I was with the Royals from 1982-86, I played with Hal McRae, arguably one of the more “aggressive” base runners in the history of the game.  In Game 2 of the 1977 ALCS between the Royals and the Yankees, Hal slid (roll blocked) Yankee second baseman Willie Randolph, so hard a Royals runner, Fred Patek, was able to score a run. See the McRae slide that changed the game of baseball at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIiYw53nGd0. 

Because of this slide, MLB made a rule that prohibited the “McRae” slide.  At that time, the “McRae” slide was not against the rules. Now, the modern MLB game seems to require a more “gentle” way of playing the game since the slide of the A’s player that caused so much uproar was a two on the McRae slide scale.

Emotional maturity can be enhanced by the generation of enough neurotransmitters in the brain. Every thought and emotion we have is controlled by neurotransmitters. Why some MLB players lose control mentally and others handle stress in a more mature manner could very well be a lack of enough neurotransmitters.

It is difficult to ask a MLB player to act mature when the brain is not equipped properly to make the right decisions.

Regardless of how the modern MLB players (and managers) deem what is “dirty” or not and when and how to get even, I hope the enforcers picked are the ones with emotional maturity and not ones who subject themselves to being suspended or who unwittingly draw a bulls eye on the back of a fellow teammate.  In the big picture, getting suspended through emotional immaturity does more to hurt the team than help.

Here is a special Happy Mother’s Day salute to all of the moms of athletes that give us the thrills to enjoy the games that we love!

Article by Greg Pryor.  To discuss your sport, your diet or to get more info on health solutions, please contact Greg at customerservice@lifepriority.com.

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