How does the juxtaposition evoke emotions?

Emotions in sport

Emotions play a very important role in sporting events, not only for the athlete himself, but also for everyone involved. Emotions arise when doing sport and can in turn influence sporting activity. Some case studies.

In competitive sport in particular, it is not uncommon for emotional impulses to determine the performance result. On the one hand, experiencing certain emotions can mean that athletes are not always able to fully call up, use and implement their existing capabilities. On the other hand, they can also have a positive, promoting influence on performance. How these effects manifest themselves will be explained using a few examples of the basic emotions of joy, anger, surprise, sadness and fear.


The emotion of joy is always associated with behavior that is geared towards rapprochement. Our body releases so-called happiness hormones through joy, which can have a positive effect on our pain perception, among other things. Approach behavior in sport could be associated with striving for achievement, purposeful activity, exertion, etc.

In terms of learning theory, an emotion such as joy has a beneficial effect on maintaining motivation to achieve achievement or, more generally, on motivation to do sport. Which from a motivational perspective can definitely be rated as a positive consequence. Here, however, it is necessary to differentiate between top-class sport and an educational situation in school sport.

The primary task of school sports is to awaken the joy of movement and community sports in all children and young people and to convey the insight that continuous sports, combined with a healthy lifestyle, have a positive effect on their physical, social, emotional and mental health Development affects. Promoting fun in sports seems to be the best way to achieve this goal.

In top-class sport, on the other hand, fun is also important, but just one of many factors that matter in sport. In top sport, the main focus is much more on performance and its optimization.

On the one hand, the enthusiasm with and for the Young Boys certainly had a positive effect on the Bernese team. Joy is equated with approximate behavior, which in this context probably led to even greater effort and motivation to score another goal. In addition, despite great physical and psychological exhaustion, the players were able to give full commitment to the end and possibly even go beyond their limits, since joy, as mentioned, also leads to a reduced sensation of pain. As a rule, positive emotions are therefore also seen as positive for the performance process, although this certainly does not apply without restriction.


The original biological function of anger is destruction. By experiencing the emotion, humans were automatically prepared for attack behavior, which aims to remove obstacles that stand in the way of satisfying important needs. Anger, like joy, can thus be related to a tendency towards rapprochement. However, the underlying motifs must be distinguished.

In the example mentioned, the greatest goal of both teams is clearly to win. Any obstacle that stands in their way in achieving this goal makes it difficult to satisfy an important need. Because YB scores the equalizer in the 87th minute, the possible match win on the part of the Basler is clearly threatened, which leads to anger or somewhat milder forms such as anger, frustration or negative surprise at FC Basel.

In this specific case, the resulting emotion has had a positive effect on the game and performance from the Basler's point of view. Immediately they started a counterattack to undo the obstacle on the way to victory, i.e. the equalizing goal of the opposing team. Even if they didn't leave the field as the winner in the end, they showed their full commitment in the remaining minutes and played with an increased willingness to take risks.

However, an increased aggressive behavioral orientation and the associated increased number of irregularities could be possible inappropriate side effects


Surprise was once defined as an emotion triggered by an unexpected object, which is used for orientation in a new or strange situation for the person.

The goal of the Bernese in the 87th minute can be described as such an unexpected event. The emotional reaction to this can therefore be surprise in addition to anger. Humans automatically and sometimes unconsciously subject every experience they have to a good / bad assessment. In addition, he also examines them with regard to a possible discrepancy between the current state and the desired state (actual-target-value comparison).

If what happened increases the distance to the target value, the surprise is given a negative color; if the discrepancy is minimized, however, the surprise is experienced as positive. In our example, it is not difficult to guess which emotional orientation the Basel team surprised by the Bernese equalizer. An emotionally negative surprise can quickly turn into frustration or anger, or it could put you in a kind of shock, which could delay the optimal implementation and a good performance.


Grief is shown in response to the loss of something important that one has possessed or enjoyed. In sport, the emotional reaction is usually not about grief as such, but rather a milder form of it - the disappointment over a defeat or personal failure.

Basel could have felt disappointment after the Young Boys goal, which would have impaired their performance and motivation. However, since the game was not over yet, this emotion was temporarily suppressed and anger was felt instead. After the end of the game, however, the disappointment was certainly there. The Basler have only achieved a draw, although they practically already had the victory in their pockets.

Grief and disappointment are emotions, the negative consequences of which are more likely to become noticeable in the long term. In particular, the motivation to keep exercising and to pursue important goals could suffer as a result. This emotion is therefore of great importance in school sport, again from a motivational perspective, as children in particular are very influenced by failures and so quickly lose interest in a sport.


In contrast to anger, fear does not serve to destroy but to protect. If we experience an unspecific stress reaction, we automatically subject the situation to an evaluation. If we judge ourselves to be stronger than the stress-inducing object, this leads to a feeling of anger. However, if we judge ourselves to be weaker, this results in a feeling of fear.

The behavior is not geared towards approach, but towards avoidance. If we humans are threatened, we show behavior that aims to protect us from danger and harm. It includes flight, withdrawal and all other behaviors that are suitable for increasing the distance between the source of danger and the individual. So fear arises when we find ourselves in an unspecific stress reaction.

Fear is a phenomenon that can be found everywhere in sport. The little boy in school sports is afraid of failing and being laughed at by his classmates, while a professional athlete is afraid of not being able to perform as expected and thereby losing the chance of a podium. Similar to the emotion "joy", fear can lead to restricted attention.

In addition to cognitive effects, fear can also lead to a generally increased physical excitement or an inhibition of motor behavior. An anxious person can therefore not achieve the performance that they would actually be capable of.