I’m sure many of you are familiar with the term “IQ…” You know, the intelligence test everyone seems to use as a means of proving his or her level of “smart” in comparison to others. In fact, in many an elementary school memory, I can vividly remember referencing this so-called “intelligence quotient” as a quick-witted comeback to solidify my smartness when challenged by my peers. Ah yes, the insurmountable, “Well my IQ is higher than yours…” shuts down an argument every time…

Now, for those who might be unfamiliar-or need a refresher-the Intelligence Quotient (IQ) test directly assesses an individual's intellectual, analytical, logical and rational abilities, all of which are cognitive dimensions of intelligence. Similar to other tests you might take throughout your lifetime-ACT, SAT, standardized state tests in school-it gives you a benchmark of where your cognitive abilities stand in comparison to the results of your peers. Now, you’re probably wondering (since this is a blog on sport psychology and mental skills) how an individual’s IQ score is related to their performance, whether in sport or life…

My answer for you… It’s complicated.

*Side note: If your performance is solely measured according to short-term memory, analytical thinking, mathematical ability and spatial recognition, then there might be some applicability-sorry engineers and architects.

That might sound a little too much like a Facebook relationship status, but bear with me for a second. IQ is a single measure of one aspect of human intelligence, the cognitive dimension. Now, when we consider sports, or performance in general, humans do not solely operate within the cognitive dimension, we operate in multiple dimensions at once. Imagine performance as a large (and delicious) pie, and within that pie, there exists three critical ingredients for success. The physical element, well, that’s a given; the physical element is like the filling of the pie, huge determinant for taste, but without the other elements, completely useless. Next, the cognitive element, which in my mind, is the whipped cream on top; the more you have, the better the outcome of delicious. The final, and most important ingredient to the performance pie, Emotional Intelligence, or “EQ.” Think of emotional intelligence as the piecrust that holds everything together; the pie would not exist without this binding element, and yet it is often overlooked because it lacks in a distinguishing, sweet flavor. In all honesty, it is a critical element of performance that is overlooked because it does not embody any physical properties.

Believe it or not, recent performance psychology literature has immersed into this concept of EQ, and continues to determine that is one of the most (if not the most) influential elements of performance. At the foundation of this research, a simple concept, “how you feel, is how you play.

A recent study from the European Journal of Sport and Exercise Science Research indicated that emotional intelligence capacities have a direct effect on an individual’s mindset, and additionally, their ability to self-regulate. For example, emotionally intelligent people can get themselves into the appropriate emotional states for the demands of the situation; if the situation requires high arousal, emotionally intelligent people are good at getting themselves psyched up.

Similarly, if the situation requires calmness, emotionally intelligent people are good at relaxing themselves.

Since emotional intelligence might be a new concept for some, we have decided to list a few competencies that will help you understand the foundation of an emotionally intelligent performer:

1.    Accurate awareness of self and personal power

2.    Service and organizational awareness

3.    Emotional self-control

4.    Resilience

5.    Achievement drive

6.    Powerful influence

7.    Conflict management

8.    Teamwork


As you continue to manage your performance, consider each of these categories as a staple towards achieving emotional intelligence and consider this… The preparation of athletes and performers for attaining successful outcomes can no longer be predicated only on training for optimum mental and physical qualities as strength, speed, flexibility and skills but also and perhaps, more importantly, on training for development of adequate emotional energy. Adequate emotional energy will ensure a successful delivery of all the trainings acquired. Voila, the perfect pie.