Guest Post: What Type Of Emotional-Style Do You Have?

Occasionally I feature tips from other individuals who have helpful input about the mental side of fitness, training or life. All of the other posts on this site are my thoughts, so I like to share different perspectives (especially so that you don’t get too tired of my ramblings).

Here’s a snippet of tips by Jim Taylor, originally posted HERE on


“Sports can evoke a wide range of emotions, from inspiration, pride, exhilaration, and satisfaction, to fear, frustration, anger, and panic, often in a very short time span during training or competition. Your ability to perform consistently is often determined by the consistency of your emotions; as your emotions go, so go your performances. Because of this influence, your ability to master your emotions gives you the power to use emotions as tools to facilitate individual and team performance rather than weapons that hurt you and your team.

Emotional Styles

I have found four emotional styles among athletes. These styles involve characteristic ways in which athletes respond emotionally to their sport. Athletes with a particular style react in a predictable way any time they find themselves in a demanding situation.

1. The seether feels frustration and anger build slowly during the course of a competition. They appear to be in emotional control, but that is only because the negative emotions haven’t surfaced yet. They’re able to keep the frustration and anger in check as long as they are performing well and the competition is mostly going their way. If the competition turns or they make a crucial error, they can explode and lose control emotionally. Often, they’re not able to reestablish control and end up losing the competition.

2. The rager also feels anger and frustration strongly, but it is expressed immediately and openly. For this type of athlete, showing strong emotions acts as a form of relief (or so they think). The emotions arise, are expressed and released. By doing this, the rager is able to maintain a kind of emotional equilibrium. Up to a point, this ongoing emotional outlet helps their performances by increasing motivation and intensity. However, though these athletes let the negative emotions out, they do not really let them go. If the competition turns against them, the rage builds until it finally engulfs and controls them. At this point, their emotions become their enemies and their performances deteriorate.

3. The brooder also feels strong emotions, but, unlike the seethed and the rager, the most common emotions are despair and helplessness. These athletes tend to dwell on negative experiences, thoughts, and feelings and can be seen as pouting during a competition. Brooders are very sensitive to the highs and lows of a competition and their emotions tend to mirror its course. If they’re performing well and winning, they’re fine, but if they perform poorly and are losing, the “down” emotions emerge and hurt their performance. They may possess a strong defeatist attitude and are best known for their giving up in pressure situations. There are no world-class or professional athletes who completely fit this emotional style because someone could not reach such a high level of performance if their dominant emotional style was as a brooder. However, there are many successful athletes who have some brooding qualities, which can prevent them from getting to the very top of their sport.

4. The Zen master is the rarest of the emotional styles because they’re largely unaffected by threat and negative emotions. Errors, poor performances, and losing seem to slide right off of them, as if they are made of Teflon. They have the ability to not let pressure situations affect them and they’re able to let go of past mistakes and failure. The Zen master rarely shows emotions, either negative or positive, and maintains a consistent demeanor even in the most critical competitive situations. This equanimity results in consistently high performance and positive reactions to the normal ups and downs of sport.

What emotional style best describes you?

Think back to competitions you have performed in that did not go well. How did you respond emotionally?  Were you a seether, rager, brooder, or Zen master?

It’s likely that a pattern of emotional reactions will emerge in your sport that place you into one of the four emotional styles.”

Continue reading the rest of the article HERE.



About The Author: Dr. Jim Taylor is an internationally recognized authority on the psychology of sport and family. You can visit his website HERE and connect with him on Facebook HERE.





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