Emotional Intelligence Key to Life Success for Pro Athletes

A study of retired NFL players finds a massive correlation between emotional intelligence skills and life success. 

Overview

Situation: Even though professional athletes have reached the pinnacle of “success,” many experience profound off-the-field troubles during – and especially after – their careers. “Despite the money and prestige of their pro football careers, athletes are facing serious challenges,”says retied NFL linebacker Marvin Smith.

Solution: Sportstech International partnered with Six Seconds to study a small cohort of retired NFL players and try to answer two questions: How successful are these retired professional athletes? and What predicts retired players’ success?

Results: While the study painted a troubling portrait of retired players’ lives in general, the results also showed a massive correlation between emotional intelligence skills and life success scores, which includes measurements of  financial health, physical and emotional wellbeing, relationship strength, and more.

“We can now pinpoint specific, learnable skills that will make a difference for these guys – for life.”

Joshua Freedman

CEO, Six Seconds

Situation

By our culture’s standards, no one could be more “successful” than pro athletes. They are famous millionaires! But beneath that shiny exterior – the huge houses, fancy cars and abundant social media following – a much darker reality lurks. Many struggle to maintain positive relationships, deal with physical and mental health issues, addiction, and more. Research has found that NFL players are 4x as likely to be addicted to painkillers as the general population. Even more alarmingly, a 2009 report from Sports Illustrated found 78% of retired NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial duress within two years of retirement, despite their lofty salaries as players. 

Solution

Six Seconds and Sportstech International conducted an exploratory study to assess if emotional intelligence is an important ingredient in helping professional athletes live healthy and successful lives. The players took the Six Seconds Emotional Intelligence Assessment, the world’s leading EQ assessment which includes a Life Success scale. Then they conducted extensive analysis and compared the results to those of a control group of random US adults.

Results

The study found that, in spite of their many advantages, athletes scored lower on the Life Success scale than control groups. At the same time, the study found a massive correlation between emotional intelligence skills and life success for retired players, indicating that emotional intelligence is a key factor in determining pro athletes’ life success.

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LOWER LIFE SUCCESS

In spite of pro athletes’ many advantages, they scored 15% lower on average on Life Success.

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EQ IS KEY

Emotional Intelligence explained 62% of the variation in Life Success scores.

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EQ and ADDICTION

Emotional Intelligence explained 49% of the variation in Addiction scores.

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EQ Data


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