Dealing With Your Emotions When Sports Betting
Does watching sports make you emotional? If you are anything like us, your answer will be yes! We LOVE sports, and we get very emotionally invested in them. It becomes hard for us to control ourselves when our favorite teams and players are involved and we know we aren’t the only ones. It’s fair to say that being a dedicated sports fan can be an emotional roller coaster at times.
This is one reason WHY we’re such big sports fans. We enjoy watching the skill and proficiency of professional sportsmen and women, but the real buzz of sports comes from caring about what happens. There are few moments in life more exciting than when our favorite soccer team scores late in the game to lock in the win, or when our favorite football team blitzes the opposition in an important game.
Gambling typically causes us to go through a range of emotions too. The sheer excitement we feel when taking risks for the chance of winning money can be very exhilarating. Then there’s the ups and downs of winning and losing. We naturally feel happy when we win, and if the win is significant enough we can even experience genuine elation. Of course, the flip side to that are the negative emotions we feel when we lose. Overall, though, the emotional thrills that gambling can offer are a positive for most people.
Sports betting combines the emotions we feel when watching sports with the emotions we feel when gambling. This can create a very powerful emotional experience, which isn’t always a good thing. In fact, it’s almost always a bad thing for those who are serious about trying to make money from betting on sports. Emotions can easily prevent us from being able to make decisions based on sound logic and reasoning, which means becoming a successful bettor will be nearly impossible.
The best sports bettors are able to put their emotions aside when making their betting decisions. If you want to be successful, you need to learn to do the same. In this article, we aim to help you do exactly that. We start with some advice on how to build up your emotional resilience, and then discuss the importance of positive thinking. We go on to explain how to deal with the emotions caused by winning and losing, and a couple of other specific emotions you must learn to control.
Building Your Resilience to Emotion
We’ve just explained in our introduction that gambling can be an emotional experience. This doesn’t only apply to sports betting, but to ANY form of gambling. For many people who enjoy gambling as a pastime, the emotions they go through are actually part of the appeal. Winning money isn’t their only concern, and usually not even their primary one. They just want to have fun, and the emotions they experience contribute to that.
However, there’s a world of difference between gambling for the purposes of entertainment and gambling with the intention of making money. When profit is the goal, we must avoid becoming emotionally involved. We need to try to control our emotions and make sure they don’t influence our decisions.
Most serious sports bettors recognize the importance of emotional control, but that doesn’t mean that they’re very good at it. Understanding its importance is one thing; learning how to actually do it effectively is another thing entirely.
Throughout this article we offer numerous snippets of advice about how to deal with specific emotions. This advice is useful, but it can only help so much. You also need to have the necessary discipline and resilience to deal with your emotions when it matters. Discipline isn’t really something that we can teach, so it’s ultimately on you to do your best to stay as disciplined as possible. We CAN help you when it comes to building your resilience to emotions though.
The resilience you need can be broken down into the following three categories.
- Financial Resilience
- Psychological Resilience
- Physical Resilience
Let’s take a look at each one of these in more detail.
Financial resilience is surprisingly the easiest to build. All you need to do here is make sure that you’re betting with money that you can afford to lose, so that you don’t need to stress and worry about the financial implications of losing any wagers.
The best approach here is relatively straightforward. First, set aside a sum of money that specifically can be used for betting. This will be your bankroll. Next, you’ll want to learn how to manage your bankroll effectively. This might involve devising a staking plan to help you remain disciplined and keep your stakes at an appropriate level.
Psychological resilience is less tangible, and somewhat harder to build. This is really about strength of character. Although we offer some useful advice later about staying strong and dealing with the emotional highs and lows you’ll experience, this is ultimately a personal process. Not everyone will be able to deal with things in the exact same way.
For this reason, we suggest the best way to build psychological resilience is to carry out frequent self-analysis. Think about how you’re feeling, and why you’re feeling that way. Then try to think about how those feelings are going to affect your behavior, BEFORE they start to take effect. This is something we are consistently working on, because we see how beneficial it can be.
If you feel it’s necessary, don’t be afraid to take a break from betting. This will allow you to properly examine your “inner-self” and reflect on your emotions and the impact they have. The more you understand yourself, the higher your chances are of being able to develop strong self-control.
You might not realize this, but betting can affect you physically just as much as it does psychologically. If you let things get to you, they can put on a strain on your body as well as your mind. That’s why it’s also important to build physical resilience too! If you’re in good shape physically, you’ll be better equipped to handle the emotional side of things.
Building physical resilience is pretty straightforward; basically, you need to take care of yourself. Be intentional; eat well and get plenty of exercise. This might sound cliché, but a healthy body does generally lead to a healthy mind. And a healthy mind helps you stay motivated, focused, and in control.
In addition to building your emotional resilience, you should also think about trying to maintain a positive frame of mind. Why is this so important? Let us explain!
The Power of Positive Thinking
A lot of people dismiss the power of positive thinking. They shouldn’t. Our frame of mind can have a real impact on our lives and the way we approach them, and it’s ultimately up to us whether that impact is a positive or a negative one. If we think positive thoughts, they can influence many aspects of our lives for the better. If we think negative thoughts, they can consume us and make our lives considerably worse.
There’s no doubt that people prefer to be happy. Unfortunately, people constantly strive for something that they think will make them happy, without ever stopping to appreciate what they already have. Then, when they do achieve what they want, they strive for even more. They never actually get to be happy, and their frame of mind suffers as a result.
Want to know the irony in all this? The people who ARE happy with what they have are significantly more likely to achieve what they want in life. Happiness can be a contributor to success, as well as a result of it. So positive thinking effectively leads to positive things. That’s Barbara Frederickson’s take on the matter anyway. She’s a psychology researcher at the University of North Carolina, and she wrote a well-respected paper on the power of positive thinking. We happen to strongly agree with her theory.
If you have the time, you should read through Fredrickson’s theory. There’s also an interesting article on her theory that summarizes many of her key points. It will help you to understand the many benefits of positive thinking.
Nothing that Frederickson writes about is directly related to gambling or sports betting, but she does point out that negative thinking brings about negative emotions, which essentially prevents our brains from working properly. Positive thinking, on the other hand, does the opposite. It creates positive emotions, and helps us think more clearly and rationally.
This is the core of it really. Our aim when betting is to make well-reasoned decisions, and anything that helps us do that is worth exploring. In our experience, simply maintaining a positive outlook is great for keeping our confidence levels up and allowing us to trust our judgement. This in turn ensures that we make our decisions for the right reasons. We’re thinking positively about what we’re trying to achieve, rather than worrying about what happens if we make a mistake or bad decision.
We could go into a lot more detail here, but we really just want to make you aware that positive thinking WILL help you in your sports betting. Among other things, it will put you in a stronger position to deal with all the emotional challenges you have to face.
We’ll now look at some of those challenges, starting with the main highs and lows you’ll experience when betting on sports.
Dealing With the Highs and Lows of Sports Betting
Generally speaking, everyone who bets on sports will win on occasion. In the same way that even the most successful sports bettors will lose from time to time. So no matter how good or bad you are at sports betting, you’re going to experience both winning and losing. You’re also going to experience the emotional highs and lows that winning and losing cause.
How you react to those highs and lows helps determine your level of betting success. So we want to make sure that you’re able to deal with them well. Below is some advice on how to deal emotionally with winning and losing. We start with winning.
Winning our wagers is obviously a good thing, and not just because of the financial rewards it brings. It also makes us happy, and gives us confidence that we’re doing something right. It brings about all kinds of other positive emotions too. There are actual scientific reasons for this, as our bodies release “feel good hormones” when we have pleasurable experiences such as winning money.
As surprising as this may sound, it’s true. Winning can actually generate certain negative emotions that can end up causing us more harm than good. The more we win, the worse its effects.
You’ll probably come to a point in your betting career where it seems as if you’re untouchable. Maybe it’s because you’re very good at what you do or maybe it’s because you’ve finally hit a lucky streak. Either way, it’s very important to keep your feet firmly on the ground during such a run. When result after result goes just exactly as predicted, it’s very easy to feel like a winning run will never end. This is when people tend to develop these more negative emotions.
These emotions can all manifest themselves in ways that lead to a winning run not only coming to an end, but turning into a lengthy and costly losing streak.
Overconfidence often leads to making risky decisions. If we feel incapable of losing, we might feel tempted to increase our stakes significantly or place more challenging wagers. This can be fueled by greed too, as our motivation may be the larger potential payouts on offer.
Complacency can lead us to placing wagers on sports or events that we know little about. Instead of sticking to what we know best, we start to believe that we will win money on anything we bet on. This isn’t a recipe for success, and nor is being lazy. When we appear to winning with ease, we may not bother putting in the same level of effort as we did in the past. Completely forgetting the reason we were winning in the first place was probably because of that effort.
This is easier said than done of course. Nonetheless, it’s something that we urge you to remember. Don’t ever think that you’ve “cracked it,” and that your winning run is going to last forever. It almost certainly won’t. Although winning runs where everything goes right can and do happen, they also come to an end.
There’s no reason why you can’t win consistently in the long term, but it’s vital that you recognize spectacular winning runs for what they are. Don’t let them go to your head and start thinking that you’re some kind of betting genius. That will only lead to you making countless mistakes.
In addition to long winning runs, bettors often experience long losing runs as well. In fact, it’s almost inevitable. Even if you’re a very skilled bettor, and very knowledgeable about the sports you bet on, there will be times when absolutely nothing turns out as expected.
Handling a losing run can be very difficult. It’s something that even the best and most experienced bettors can struggle with. Learn how to cope or risk causing losing streaks to last longer than they need to.
The first step in coping is understanding the negative emotions that losing runs can cause, and how these emotions can manifest themselves. Here’s a list of the most common.
Fear is a very damaging emotion for a sports bettor. If we become scared of losing wagers, it becomes almost impossible to make sensible judgements. We may start looking for reasons not to bet, or simply going for whatever option is the safest. Neither of these things will help us turn a losing run around.
Doubt is equally damaging. We need to find a balance between evaluating what we’re doing wrong and having confidence in our ability to make good decisions. Without that sense of confidence, we’d probably just end up second guessing ourselves. One of two things could happen at this point. We could be forced to make decisions for the wrong reasons or be unable to make any decisions at all.
This is an example of where positive thinking can help.
Fear and doubt can be hard emotions to overcome. But you CAN push them aside if you try to stay positive. Keep your self-belief, and look on losing runs as an opportunity to improve. If you spend some time analyzing what’s going wrong and why, then you may end up better off as a result. This turns your negative situation into a positive one.
Desperation and frustration can be some of the most damaging emotions for sports bettors, especially those who struggle with their discipline. Bettors easily become so desperate and frustrated with the constant losses that they start staking higher and higher amounts in an attempt to recover them. This almost always end badly.
To overcome these types of emotions, you must try to remember that losing runs are simply part of betting. They ARE going to happen, and it becomes a lot easier to deal with them if you just accept that they’re one of the many hurdles that need to be overcome. Taking a break can help too, and we strongly recommend doing so if you ever feel the urge to start chasing losses with ever increasing stakes.
Follow all the advice we’ve offered here and you’ll find that the emotional highs and lows of betting don’t have to affect you too much. They’ll always be there, but they can definitely be controlled with the right approach.
There are two other emotions that you need to control too, and we’ll look at these in the final section of this article.
Dealing with Sentiment & Passion
It’s important to always make betting decisions for the right reasons. This is what successful sports bettors do. They know which factors are likely to affect the outcome of a sports event, and they know how to analyze those factors in order to make sound judgements about what’s likely to happen. Their judgements may not always be accurate, but they’re accurate often enough to win money in the long run.
Even those who are considered unsuccessful bettors have a chance of winning money in the long run. A lot of bettors who fail to win money consistently don’t fail because they don’t have the skills or knowledge, but rather because they frequently bet with their heart rather than their head.
Most people who bet on sports are sports fans first and bettors second. It’s unusual for them to bet on a sport unless they actually have some interest it. It makes sense that people choose to bet on sports that they know and understand, as in theory this gives them a much greater chance of success than betting on something that they aren’t familiar with. It also has the potential to create a problem though.
It’s natural for us to be emotionally involved in the sports that we’re interested in. When it comes to sports like football, basketball, soccer, and baseball, we have our favorite teams that we want to win. For sports like golf and tennis, we have our favorite players.
When we’re partisan to specific teams and players, there are two emotions that can be dangerous from a betting perspective.
Betting based on sentiment and/or passion isn’t a recipe for success, so we need to ignore these emotions as best we can. This is easier said than done. It takes no small amount of discipline to ignore what our hearts are telling us to do, even though we know what we should do.
We’ve gotten pretty good at putting feelings and passion aside over the years, but we know that this is something a lot bettors struggle with. If you do too, then you need to start working on a solution right now. These emotions will almost certainly be costing you money.
An easy solution is to simply not bet on any events where you have a personal bias. This can reduce the number of opportunities to find value though, so it’s not ideal. A much better solution is to train yourself to always question WHY you are placing any given wager. If you can genuinely state that it’s for all the right reasons, then go ahead and place it. If there are doubts, then take a step back and re-evaluate.
Before we summarize everything we’ve just covered, we have one further piece of advice to offer. A good trick for keeping your emotions under control is simply to take a few deep breaths. Try this next time you feel like your emotions may be affecting you. It’s surprising just how effective it can be. It really helps with staying relaxed and calm, and that’s always a good thing.
Successful betting is hard, there’s no doubt about that. To make consistent and regular profits, we have to do anything and everything we can to gain an edge. This includes learning to deal with the emotions that betting can cause. This is easier for some people than it is for others.
The human mind is very complex and since we’re not trained psychologists, we would never say that we fully understand it. We do, however, have a good understanding of the emotional responses caused by gambling. We have both our own personal experiences, and the analysis we’ve done on our behavior to thank for that.
We can’t state with certainty that following the advice in this article will allow you to fully control your emotions when betting on sports. All we know for sure is that we’ve provided some sound advice. We’ve shared tips and ideas that have helped us over the years, and we believe that they will help you too.