How Coaching and Cheering Impact Players’ Minds

Players celebrating on the field with coaches and fans cheering.

In the arena of sports, players, coaches, and fans contribute vocally to the atmosphere during training sessions and matches. Yet, ever pondered how this impacts the mind? We dive into the intriguing science of positivity and negativity, drawing on insights from acclaimed author Daniel Goleman’s “Social Intelligence,” to unravel the profound influence these emotions wield on the brain and consequently, performance.

Read more: How Coaching and Cheering Impact Players’ Minds

The Brain and Positivity:

Each day, the average person grapples with roughly 30,000 thoughts, varying from uplifting to gloomy. Goleman, in his book, attributes positive emotions to heightened activities in the brain’s prefrontal regions, hubs responsible for creativity, cognitive flexibility, and information processing. Intriguingly, when we’re immersed in positivity, the brain associates this with the pursuit and achievement of long-term goals.

Emotional Tone in Communication:

Goleman also delves into how corporate leaders communicate, shedding light on experiments surrounding positive and negative conveyances. Interestingly, the emotional tenor often eclipses the message’s content. Warmly delivered negative feedback can elicit pleasant feelings. Conversely, good news, when presented negatively, leaves employees disheartened. An insight worth noting is that employees tend to latch onto negative feedback longer than positive ones, with fear being a potent behavioral motivator. Historically, such fear-driven alertness was crucial for survival against lurking predators. However, in today’s context, when confronting criticism, our minds can be preoccupied with stress, sidelining growth and learning. Marcial Losada, an organizational psychologist, aptly mentions, “Undeniably, negative moments are inevitable. Yet, interspersing them with positive ones can elevate our happiness and productivity.”

Positivity in Action:

A riveting example from National Geographic’s series “Brain Games” exemplifies positivity’s power in sports. In a segment, two individuals aim basketball shots, while the audience either encourages or jeers. The outcome? Players resonate more with uplifting vibes, enhancing their accuracy. This phenomenon isn’t just limited to individual players. Think about jam-packed stadiums where throngs of supporters vociferously rally behind their teams, creating an electrifying ambiance. Such sentiments resonate with players. Take, for instance, Mark van Bommel’s sentiment post a game, “The audience’s support, especially after trailing in a match, was palpable. They played an instrumental role in buoying our spirits.”

Exceptions and Nuances:

While the underlying thesis champions positivity, it doesn’t denounce negativity entirely. Some players derive motivation from adversarial environments. Klaas Jan Huntelaar, a forward from Ajax, relishes playing amidst hostility. He remarks, “The palpable animosity energizes me. It accentuates the match’s intensity.”


To sum it up, the emotional undertone often holds more sway than the message’s content in coaching. How do you, as a coach or supporter, deliver your message? Introspectively, are you unconsciously more positive or negative? Remember, while negativity is an inescapable reality, we can infuse dollops of positivity, influencing performances on and off the field.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top