Mad About Sports? Why Your Youth Athlete May Need Help With Anger Management

Posted on: 23 May 2016

Emotions can run high in sports. In fact, according to Psychology Today, they can even ultimately dictate how well your child performs in a competition. Strong negative emotions, for example, can actually cause a child's muscles to tighten up, which can then affect their play or performance. In hockey, coaches often say that a slumping scorer is squeezing their stick too tightly. Strong emotions can also cost an athlete in other more important ways, as well. In 2016, football player Johnny Manziel, who once had a very promising football career, was arrested for assaulting his girlfriend. This incident combined with Manziel's other erratic behavior ultimately cost the player his job with the Cleveland Browns. 

No Place to Hide

If you have a student athlete who is on the verge of a college or professional career and has shown signs that they have trouble controlling their emotions, it may be time to have them attend anger management classes -- both to help them with their performance and so that they won't commit a potentially career-ending assault. Cameras are everywhere today and can catch an athlete's moment of rage even when they believe no one can see them. Several high-profile examples that have occurred recently include:

  • Ray Rice. When the NFL Baltimore Ravens player punched his wife in an elevator, in 2014, a security camera caught the entire incident.
  • De'Andre Johnson. In 2015, the Florida State University quarterback was caught on tape punching a woman in a bar. 
  • LeSean McCoy. When the NFL Buffalo Bills player was arrested in 2016 for assaulting several off-duty police officers, several people caught the incident on their cell phones.
  • Ray McDonald. The former San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Bears player was charged in 2015 with domestic violence and child endangerment. His ex-fiancee recorded at least part of the incident with her cellphone.

Assaults such as these can be the end of an athlete's career. In Johnson's case, the quarterback was dismissed from Florida State. As for Rice, the Baltimore Ravens terminated the Super Bowl-winning player's five-year contract, which was worth $35 million.  And as of May 2016, the running back still had not been picked up by another team.

Anger Management While Playing

In addition, an athlete that wants to excel in their sport also needs to learn how to deal with their emotions while playing. For one thing, athletes who can't control their emotions and anger can quickly become the target of the opposing team. In hockey, for example, Evgeni Malkin, a center for the Pittsburgh Penguins, has a reputation for being easily angered. Other teams have learned that they can goad him into taking stupid penalties by pestering him. The end result for the Penguins is that they not only lose Malkin -- one of their most important players -- to the penalty box, but they must also compete short-handed. 

Anger management is also important if you have noticed that your child has problems dealing with:

  • Criticism from their coach
  • Bad calls from officials
  • Dealing with opponents or even teammates when things aren't going well on the playing field. 

How Anger Management Can Help a Player

So how can an anger management specialist help your child? There are several ways. They can, for example, teach a player to communicate their feelings in a calm manner with their coaches and teammates rather than bottling them in, which could result in an explosive outburst. An anger management specialist will also work with a player to show them how to get over mistakes, such as a bad play, and to, instead, focus on their next situation. In addition, an anger management specialist will teach your child coping mechanisms and techniques to help them cool down when they feel their emotions spinning out of control.

If you believe that your child is showing signs that they can't control their emotions, it is important to get them help while they are still young and before it could possibly negatively affect their career as a professional or college-level athlete. 


Getting The Help I Needed

After spending my entire life suffering with almost debilitating anxiety, I realized it might be time to see the doctor. I was medicated almost immediately, but my doctors explained that a few pills might not be enough. They enrolled me in counseling, and I started working with a therapist the next day. It was amazing the difference that it made. My counselor took the time to help me through my problems, and within a few weeks I felt at peace. My blog is all about the benefits of counseling, so that you can experience the life-changing results of this much-needed therapy.

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