Mastering the Mental Game: How to Achieve Emotional Stability in Sports

Picture of By Jesse Engelbrecht

By Jesse Engelbrecht

A squash player crouching down and in a highly emotional state

One of my students, Laila, recently shared with me a superb metaphor. It involves a tightrope walker’s skill to achieve emotional stability in sports. The metaphor illustrates her feelings during practice and training sessions. This blog post is a modified version of what she spoke to me about. I believe it brilliantly captures the intricate act of balancing thoughts and emotions in order to master the mental game. I am grateful to her for insights and putting it across in such an eloquent yet simple way.

In the high-stakes world of competitive sports, the mental balancing act can be compared to walking a tightrope suspended high above the ground. The tightrope walker holds a long pole, which represents the delicate interplay between thoughts and actions. On one side of the pole are the thoughts, while on the other side are the actions. Each side requiring careful attention and adjustment to maintain equilibrium.


Mastering the mental game and achieving emotional stability in sports involve maintaining balance. Whilst on this metaphorical tightrope it requires keeping our thoughts and actions in harmony. Much like the skilled tightrope walker, who must constantly adjust the position of the pole to counter any imbalance caused by external factors, such as wind or shifting weight. This is how to achieve emotional stability in sports. In moments where we overthink or underthink, our mental balance wavers, and we risk falling into a dizzying spiral.

As we practice, we often rely on the safety net below us, knowing it will catch us if we falter. However, this reliance can inadvertently create a habit of depending on that net.

When we transition into the competitive arena, the stakes are raised, and the safety net we’ve grown accustomed to is no longer there. In this intense environment, it becomes even more crucial to find and maintain mental clarity. To keep our balance, skillfully managing the interplay between our thoughts and actions. Without the practice of honing our focus and mental equilibrium, we are more likely to stumble under the pressure, with no net to break our fall.

A cartoon image of a lady walking on a tightrope looking focussed and determined and balancing thoughts and actions on either side of the pole to keep her balance. Mastering the Mental Game: How to Achieve Emotional Stability in Sports


Whenever you’re ready, here are 4 more ways you can consume SportMind content to help you train your mind:

  1. Check out the SportMind podcast. And this is my FAVOURITE episode to date
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  3. Ever wanted the tools to Unlock Flow? I have a workshop just for this
  4. Become a SportMind member and gain full access to mental training. Learn more here

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Jesse Engelbrecht

SportMind Founder,
High Performance Coach,
& Squash Professional

A professional and dedicated coach full of enthusiasm and passion for helping and teaching.

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