Anger is an emotion normally associated with being offended, frustrated or wronged. Managing anger is extremely important in sport to avoid reacting negatively to a situation.
Anger in sport can be very useful in the right situation but more often than not it is about how you control your aggression that makes the difference. Often opponents look to irritate each other in the hope it puts them off a game plan or affects their performance.

Anger can be seen in many different forms. It can be something as simple as a player shouting at themselves after a bad shot, physically lashing out or even over exerting themselves in a skill such as increasing the power of the next serve.

Impacts on Performance

Anger without control will mostly affect performance negatively and will increase the amount of poor decisions made. A player who controls their anger can use this to benefit their performance

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Positive Examples

In High School Michael Jordan was not selected for his schools top basketball team (he was thought to be too short at 5ft 11). His anger and frustration at not being selected motivated him to train hard and the following season he did get selected (He also grew 4 inches). He then went on to become one of the best basketball players of all time.

The quote below gives a further example of how controlling anger can lead to a positive performance.

“Whilst playing cricket I had been batting for a few overs without scoring, the bowlers were very consistent with their pace and line. This was not a new situation for me as our senior school team had bowlers like this and we faced them all the time in the nets. I waited patiently until a wider delivery at which point I controlled my aggression into the shot and played it to the boundary..."

Negative Examples

The following quotes give examples of how uncontrolled anger can impact on performance:

"...I was playing badminton and had spotted a weakness in their back court backhand side. I was able to play repeated shots to this area and it was very obvious they were unable to cope consistently. They were getting very angry and this helped me even more as they started making poor decisions ..."

"...In golf my putting was not particularly good during the round and I was becoming more frustrated and angry with my inability to score well. After one very poor putt I made the silly mistake of allowing my anger to boil over and at the next tee tried to drive the ball much further than normal. My technique was awful and I put my drive into trees. This only added to my poor scoring..."

"...In basketball my opposite forward was particularly good at protecting the ball and winning rebounds. I was really getting annoyed at his good play and at myself for letting the team down. I was drawn into making silly fouls against him and eventually my anger and lack of self-control built up too many fouls and I was fouled out of the game..."

Scenario Example

A Netball player experiences frustration and anger after being effectively guarded in a game. This could impact on her and her team’s performance in the following ways

  • She starts to try too hard in the game
    • She causes fouls as she is too keen to get the ball
    • This causes her team to lose possession and scoring chances
    • It gives the opposition more possession and opportunities to score

  • She loses focus on her role in the team
    • She starts to make bad decisions and finds herself being caught out of position
    • This reduces the passing options her teammates have on the ball as she is not where she is meant to be.
    • She starts to interfere with the role of others in the team (getting in the way)

  • She makes bad decisions when in possession of the ball
    • She tries too hard to be successful
    • She starts to always go for the difficult play
    • Chooses the wrong passing options and often gives possession away
    • Chooses to shoot in too difficult a situation result in misses and lost scoring opportunities

  • She starts to get frustrated with her teammates
    • She blames their performance for her own poor play
    • Causes arguments within the team which reduces cohesion
    • Teammates start to lose focus and therefore their performance drops
    • Motivation of the team as a whole drops
    • Players start not working effectively together