Control Anger: Keep your cool

Control Anger: Keep your cool

Control Anger: Keep your cool

In sport we often need to control anger. It is a natural emotion experienced by almost all people, and as something that has functional value for survival. Anger can mobilize psychological resources for corrective action. Uncontrolled anger can, however, negatively affect personal or social well-being.

Athletes know when they not focused, not working hard or just plain not bringing it. An opponent likely is getting in their head, or your coach is yelling at you; it can cause frustration that can affect one’s performance causing angry outbursts.control anger keep your cool

If you are competitive and that winning seems to be everything when on the ice; as most athletes do, and that when the heat of the game is on they may let things go right away.  Then in this precarious emotional state something happens in the game. Maybe there is a little extra contact. Maybe someone takes a cheap shot at one of your team mates. So what can you do?  Push the player back? Fight? Yell at your coach?  Yell at your teammates?  Take yourself out of the game? Get thrown out of the game?  Whichever one you decide to do, it is probably not the best way to handle the situation, and at the end of the day, is it really helping you? Or is it actually hurting you and your team?  Most likely it will be the latter. However, the way you react can make or break the game you are in. A negative reaction can lead to a lack of coordination between you and the other players on your team throwing the entire team off-balance. A positive reaction, however, can inspire you and your team creating an unspoken commitment and drive from each player to put everything they have into the game, creating unity throughout the entire team. Now don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that an aggressive act to protect your team mates or yourself in inappropriate. I could hardly work with hockey players if I believed that o be the case. I am suggesting however that whatever you do is based on cool calculation and not anger.

Control Anger in Aggressive Sports

Tip #1: Communicate with your teammates and coaches.  When you keep things inside you that happened in practice or during the first half of the game, it gets the best of you and then your anger takes over.  Something that was just a little annoying or upsetting to you instantly turns into a huge screaming or fight.  If you think one of your teammates needs to step up their game or stop committing fouls, let them know that at half time or a time out.  Calmly approach them and let them know what you have been noticing, but don’t criticize them.

Tip #2: Try to channel your energy.  We have all let our anger get the best of us and ruin the great game we were having. Instead, make it an even better game by turning it into extra energy. Anger is an emotion triggered in a part of our brain that reacts. Your limbic system is a part of your brain that controls your emotions and behaviors.  So, before you do anything irrational, try to talk through your anger and let it give your body a confidence boost that can make you skate faster and play even harder.

Tip #3: Understand your opponents.  When you get an elbow to the nose, or knocked down by your opponent, don’t take it so personal.  It is just part of hockey.  If you don’t learn how to let the little things go during the game, you won’t be able to recover from it the entire game.

Tip #4: Use the anger or frustration you have from your mistake and try to focus only on the next good play you are about to make.  Don’t dwell on the past, everyone makes mistakes.  Not even the best professional players go a whole single game without making one bad pass or play.

If you want to be a great athlete, learn how to use these tips, along with others and transfer them into your game.  Anger, emotions and frustration can take control of your game, but the challenge is to not let them.  All athletes must learn to overcome their mistakes and move forward from them in order to really succeed.

Notice that the continued theme here is control. I never eluded to that you should never put someone into the boards hard or even fight. My point is that just as you can be calculating in how you play the game, you can be calculating in aggressive behavior. If you do get angry, use that anger to fuel your fury for the game, your passion. Regulate yourself. I’ve talked about how to do this with relaxation before. This is the other end. Some players don’t get fired up until they have been hit a few times. Just get very good (with practice) of reeling yourself back in. Regulate your emotions with intelligence and you will be a far better player. Make sure you leave things that went on prior to the game in the locker room.

If you are losing your temper due to frustration off the ice here are ten other tips that will help.

  • No. 1: Take a timeout (pull yourself away from the volatile situation)
  • No. 2: Once you’re calm, express your anger (keeping your thoughts inside will lot help)
  • No. 3: Get some exercise (going for a run or lifting weights will help)
  • No. 4: Think before you speak (don’t fan the fire)
  • No. 5: Identify possible solutions (think first)
  • No. 6: Stick with ‘I’ statements (take responsibility)
  • No. 7: Don’t hold a grudge (forgiveness is ok, not saying you should forget, but let it go)
  • No. 8: Use humor to release tension (laughter is really the best)
  • No. 9: Practice relaxation skills (I’ve covered this many times)
  • No. 10: Know when to seek help (if all else fails, you can call me)

Are you the player you want to become? Come discover” The Athlete within You” and find out what is sport psychology; and why you should learn about the game within the game!

Athletes from all over the country have been seeking out Mike Margolies for close to thirty-five years for his expertise in helping them live up to their potential. They have sought his counsel and unique teaching style to learn about the game within the game. Mike founded The Mental Game and Sport Psychology Consultants in 1983 and has helped over 2000 athletes. Mike has taught at four Universities and completed research at the United States Olympic Training Center. Mike Margolies is available for workshops, team and individual consultation, assessment and as a speaker. His new book is called “The Athlete within You- a mental approach to sports and business” It is for athletes and non athletes working to achieve more in life.