Why anger in sport has a bad reputation

Anger has a bad reputation, but it is a fundamental part of who we are. Without it there would be no sport. It underlines our need to compete, accomplish and succeed.

If managed, contained and expressed positively, anger can drive us to great things. Just look at the remarkable achievements of Jody Cundy and Oscar Pistorious – two sporting warriors, who are making headlines for all the wrong reasons. As both expressed their moments of sheer anguish, the world looked on in shock, but no one could help but be moved.

Anger is being played out during every day during these Paralympics. It is a key component that fuels sportsmen and women across the finishing line. The sign of anger as a “problem” is when the behaviour is out of proportion to the event. In anger we often relive our past or experience our fear of the future. When an athlete becomes angry, this can either lead to brilliance or a lack of performance. By changing our attitude to anger, by accepting the part of ourselves that is angry, we can change the view of ourselves.

The task of a psychotherapist, like myself, is to help young men like Cundy and Pistorious to throw off the burden we impose on them and find their inner self belief for coping with anxiety and pressure and ultimately to perform better. We cannot rid ourselves of anger but we can change our relationship to it and, just like these incredible athletes, use it for good.


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