Internal Dispositions Affecting Emotional Regulation in Basketball

 How do internal factors affect performance?

There are many internal dispositions that can negatively or positively affect performance. Basketball athletes need to have consistent levels of emotion throughout their performance. All internal dispositions will concurrently affect one another simultaneously. Although there are many factor that can affect emotional regulation in athletes, there are 5 main factors: stress, confidence, motivation, arousal and anxiety.

How does stress affect performance?

Stress can be defined as a state that results from demands that are placed on an individuals in which they need to engage in a coping mechanism (Jones, 1990). Sports related stress on the other hand is dynamic in competitive sport and is a perceived as highly intense, that diminishes cognitive functioning that results in poorer performance. Personal life stressors can alter an athlete’s performance. Stressors in high school basketball athletes can include but are not limited to: getting poor grades, relationship problems and having tension with their parents. Athletes are subjected to more stress than the normal population. While this can be positive for some athletes, stressors can negatively impact the well-being of the athlete and result in a decrease their performance on the court.


Confidence is an underlying theme that every successful basketball player has. Sometimes it is referred to as swagger, or having “it.” Having confidence is directly related to better sports performance. (Woodman & Hardy, 2003).  Confidence is related to an athlete’s ability to control situations. Confidence is a result of an athlete’s preparedness. Whether that is on the free throw line, or scoring on a fast break, every basketball athlete needs confidence in order for optimal performance. A major factor that affects confidence is anxiety, and self-doubt. But when an athlete loses his/her confidence they will need to rebuild it to regain their successes. The ability for basketball athletes to regulate their emotions during sport is critical. But when an athlete loses his/her confidence they will need to rebuild it to regain their successes.

Why do athletes stay in sport?

The reason is simply motivation. These athletes are motivated, not just because of the sport endeavours but are also internally motivated. Athletes can use their personal stressors to succeed in sport while using a positive thinking approach to stressors. In high school basketball athletes most coaches are used for motivation.   Motivation is the drive or the “will to play.” Athletes need to have their motivation cultivated in combination with the other personal dispositions in order for optimal performance.

How can arousal levels impact performance?

Arousal levels for each athlete is different. Some athletes need high levels of arousal for optimal performance, while some need very little arousal levels. Each athlete needs to identify where they are on the arousal spectrum. There are three components of arousal:

  • physiological response
  • psychological response
  • behavioural response

All three components will impact the athlete differently. Throughout the entire basketball game, each athlete will be subjected to various forms of arousal. Even though there will be highs, and lows, each athlete needs to know when to bring themselves “up or down” depending on the situation.

How does anxiety alter performance?

Anxiety is a result of when an athlete self-doubts their ability to cope with different situations. (Hardy et al, 1996). These are the cognitive and physiological responses Anxiety can be broken into personal or situational anxiety. All basketball athletes will be subjected to situational (performance) anxiety, which is the anxiety associated that takes place during competition. While some basketball athletes will also have personal anxiety which can be attributed to skill level, self-esteem, and confidence. Regulating anxiety throughout performance will lead to more consistent play from high school basketball athletes.


Resources for further information:


Hardy, L., Jones, G., & Gould, D. (1996). Understanding psychological preparation for sport: Theory and Practice of Elite Performers. Wiley, Chichester.

Jones, G. (1990). A cognitive perspective on the process unde
rlying the relationship between stress and performance in sport. Stress and Performance in Sport, Wiley, Chichester, 17-42.

Woodman, T., & Hardy, L. (2003). The relative impact of cognitive anxiety and self-confidence upon sport performance: a meta-analysis. Journal of Sport Sciences, 21, 443-457.


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