The purpose of this investigation was to determine if there are cognitive psychological factors used in competition and training which differentiate athletes participating in an open and closed skill sport. In addition, factors discriminating successful from less successful participants in the open skill sport of football and the closed skill sport of gymnastics were identified. A total of 40 inter-varsity athletes (n = 20; footballers) from open-skill and (n = 20; gymnasts) from closed-skill sports completed the emotional intelligence questionnaire (EIQ16). The EIQ16 measures 16 emotional competencies covering the ability to accurately perceive emotions in one-self and others, use emotions to facilitate thinking, understand emotional meanings, and manage emotions. Student’s t-test for independent data was used to assess the between-group differences. The level of p ≤ 0.05 was considered significant. The results revealed significant difference in self-analysis (p = 0.0004), analysis of others (p = 0.0137), self-expression (p = 0.0274), thinking (p = 0.0189), judgment (p = 0.0010), problem solving (p = 0.0310), complexity (p = 0.0036), transitions (p = 0.0013), openness (p = 0.0061), self-control (p = 0.0562) and others (p = 0.0490) (p < 0.05) among open-skill and closed-skill athletes. Results further indicated no significant difference in the in-discrimination (p = 0.1789), sensitivity (p = 0.0761), symptoms (p = 0.2617), outcomes (p = 0.0770) and monitoring (p = 0.2258) (p > 0.05). In conclusion, emotional intelligence is an important construct in the sports domain (Meyer and Fletcher, 2007). Accordingly, interest in emotional intelligence has increased specifically in the realm of athletics (Zizzi et al., 2003). Proponents have claimed that emotional intelligence can enhance leadership performance, team cohesion, and coping with pressure.
Key words: Athlete, emotional intelligence, open and closed skill.
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