Elite basketballers need strong emotions

Basketball players are required to be strong emotionally when performing at the top level. Joel Fish, Director of the Center for Sport Psychology in Center City, US, has noted sportsmen who are big and powerful physically will not necessarily be the same from a psychological point of view, News Observer reports.

Mr Fish also performs a role for NBA side the Philadelphia 76ers, which sees him draw up personality assessments of players the team might pick in the draft.

He stated: "The NBA is not a lightbulb league. If you've got some gaps in your personality, it's not like a lightbulb goes on because all of a sudden you are in the NBA."

The expert pointed out the added stress of competing at such a level can also exacerbate any underlying problems felt by team members.

Such a role has proven highly useful for the Sixers while selecting players in the draft, as sounding out any psychological issues can help the team understand if a person will be able to handle success and adversity.

Dr Mark Uphill, a Chartered Psychologist, said: "There’s a widespread recognition among coaches, athletes and sport psychologists that the ability to regulate emotions effectively is important for sport performance.

"There is arguably much variability in the intensity, duration, and frequency with which athletes experience certain emotions, and the extent to which athletes perceive these emotions to be helpful or harmful to performance.

"Rather than seeing emotions as necessarily intrusive and unhelpful,  being “emotionally strong” from this perspective is having strategies that can be drawn upon to both downplay the intensity of certain emotions when required, but also about intensifying certain emotions when feeling “flat or lethargic” for example.

"There is an accumulating body of evidence regarding the strategies that can be used to help athletes regulate their emotions effectively, but it’s fair to say that much remains to be learned, particularly regarding the relative efficacy of these strategies. 

"The use of personality assessments in sport has historically been seen as somewhat contentious, particularly in relation to team selection.

"There is no sound evidence to my knowledge that would lead me to conclude that an individual would or would not be successful in sport on the basis of personality alone, but of course this conclusion should be tempered with on-going examination of the evidence.

"However, the notion that “psychological profiling” could be used to help understand how athletes may react emotionally to the pressure of high level competition is an interesting one albeit one whose efficacy has yet to be fully explored."