Mindfulness Training Improves Sport Performance via Inhibiting Uncertainty Induced Emotional Arousal and Anger

Author(s): Simeng Gu, Yumeng Li, Yao Jiang, Jason H Huang, Fushun Wang

Mindfulness training has gained popularity in the scientific field, and has been proposed as an efficient psychotherapy for affective disorders. Mindfulness training requires the individual to pay attention to the good things that are happening “right now and here” and neglect the nervous uncertainty. Uncertainty (un-expectancy) plays a critical role in inducing stressful emotions during sport games, and mindfulness training is especially useful in calming the body peacefully for the athletes. In this paper, we will review experimental studies and propose theoretic speculations concerning uncertainty and emotional arousal during sport games. We first analyzed the effects of emotions on sports according to two dimensions (arousal and valence), next we analyzed the effects according to our previous three-primary-color emotional theory, which suggested that there are three prototypical emotions (Joy, Fear and Disgust). In addition, we proposed that anger might be the only basic emotion that can only be evoked by others’ behavior responses and directly affect sport performance. Furthermore, we proposed that emotional arousal activates the sympathetic and norepinephrine system, while mindfulness activates the para-sympathetic and dopamine system. Therefore, mindfulness will activate the neural systems that are totally different from or contrary the emotional arousal systems to induce peaceful mind. This review will contribute greatly to theoretical and empirical explorations of emotional regulations with mindfulness during sports.

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