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  • Writer's pictureacoachsdiary

E.I. Part 2 - Don’t Panic

Updated: May 2, 2023

Guiding Question: When you get attacked (on or off the court/field), do you panic and react, or can you stay calm and respond?

Key Takeaway: The best leaders know how to manage their emotions and the emotions of others. They don't panic; they respond with reason. But they also know how to react with emotion when necessary.

Don’t judge me, but when I was coaching young girls' basketball, I would start most games by sending 2 or 3 girls at the ball-handler and see how they would react. Would their eyes get big and panic by throwing the ball away, or would they calmly find a way to beat the press, causing us to adjust defensively?

The best don’t panic. They manage their emotions, think rationally using their thinking minds, and make the next, right play.

The best know how to stay calm and invite you into your calm, even in the middle of a storm.

In my last post about Emotional intelligence, a book by Daniel Goleman, I wrote that our brains have two minds: a thinking mind and an emotional mind, and I asked, “Which one guides and controls YOUR actions?”

Your thinking mind is controlled by the part of your brain called your neocortex.

Your emotional mind is controlled by the part of your brain called your amygdala.

When we are in control, what we see, hear, and feel goes straight to our neocortex and it allows us to think and make rational decisions, like how to beat a press.

But sometimes, what we see, hear, and feels goes straight to our amygdala and causes us to react with intense emotions, like fear and panic, and we can’t rationally see how to beat that same pressure.

How we react to certain things has a lot to do with our experiences. If you were attacked by a dog when you were younger and never coped with that, you are more likely to panic when you see a loose dog as an adult.

This panic is called an amygdala hijack. When our amygdala gets hijacked, we feel like we ‘just can’t think straight’ or like we have ‘lost our minds.’ Have you ever seen a skilled and talented athlete who can’t put it all together in the game? They might struggle because of a lack of control over their emotions and the way they process information in fast-paced or pressure-filled situations.

Sometimes, kids struggle in school, not because of how smart they are, but because of how they can or can’t control and manage their emotions.

Our emotional brain is just as important in our success as our thinking brain. We can be the most talented, smartest, and most skilled coach, teacher, leader, or athlete in the world, but if we can’t manage our emotions, if we let our emotional mind override our thinking mind, we won’t be able to effectively apply and do what we know we can.

Our success in life is determined by both our talent and IQ and our Emotional Intelligence.


When your amygdala gets hijacked and you start to act on emotions rather than reason, follow the 10-second rule and the 90-second rule.


When our amygdala gets hijacked and we lose our mind, it takes 10 seconds for our body to release a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol helps you emotionally reset and regain your rational thinking.

Whether go into fight, flight, or freeze mode when you experience an amygdala hijack, take 10 seconds, breath, and then your mind and body will start returning back to normal.


Some research says that it only takes 90 seconds for your body to fully reset. If you can control or manage your actions and reactions for 90 seconds, you will fully be back to normal. Try to wait out the 90 seconds before doing something you might regret.


1 - When your amygdala gets hijacked and you lose your mind, do you go into fight, flight, or freeze mode? Do you want to fight back, run and avoid the situation, or do you just freeze and don’t know what to do or how to react?

2 - How does your body start to react with you feel intense emotions? Does it tense up, do you start to laugh or cry, do your teeth and fist clench tight?

3 - What can you do to follow the 10-Second rule? When you are in the middle of an emotional attack, how can the 10-Second rule help you?

4 - How can the 90-Second rule help you? When you are in fight/flight/freeze mode, how can you apply the 90-Second rule so you don’t do something you might regret?

5 - What is a past situation in which knowing the 10-Second and 90-Second rules would have helped you make a better decision?

Much of this information was taken from the introduction of Daniel Goleman’s book, Emotional Intelligence. You can find more about the book here: Emotional Intelligence.

Previous E.I. Posts - Intro

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