Good Decision Foes: Anger

Frank MartinTechnical fouls, flagrant fouls, physical confrontations, and players simply losing their focus have become so common in basketball that many accept them as part of the game. Just as in life, if we can control this enemy inside, we can learn to use the energy it creates and minimize the effects it has on our decision-making!  (It’s probably not fair to characterize South Carolina’s Frank Martin as an angry coach, but I love the picture!)

BASKETBALL – Does anger help you play better?

GarnettAnger is considered a secondary emotion, meaning it’s a cover for other emotions. It may feel real, but it often masks deeper feelings of fear, frustration, insecurity, or doubt.

While it may seem that anger will give you or your team an edge, since the rush of adrenaline can improve your speed, strength, or pain tolerance, it can also become a crutch or an excuse for inefficient play.  Repeated mishandling of anger can also disrupt team unity and cooperation, create negative self-talk, erode confidence, and affect the decisions made during a game

Anger is not something you can avoid in basketball.   While learning stress-relief techniques like taking deep breaths, removing yourself from the situation by walking away or even asking for a substitute, or using a calming “cue” word like focus or calm, it’s most helpful to prepare off the court for those times on the court when the heat of competition intensifies.

Relax – Focus on why you play or coach the game, reevaluate your expectations for yourself, and admit the damage anger has caused.

Identify – A journal can be a helpful way to track events that lead to anger and the poor decisions that may result.  Analyze the source of anger and learn to connect your anger to the deeper emotions that lie underneath.

Take Ownership  – Understand what makes you you.  Do not look for others to blame.  Own it,  verbalize it, and deal with it.

LIFE – Why not learn to deal with anger?

I hope I’m hitting really close to home on this one, because for me, I am.  As I look at relationships in my life, it becomes painfully obvious that anger has led to many poor decisions in how I relate to my wife, to my children, and to those with whom I work.  For those of you old enough to remember one of the best afterschool rerun TV shows ever created, The Dick Van Dyke Show, it seems so obvious that Dick should avoid the footstool every day, but instead he falls over it day after day.  Why doesn’t he just move it?   Alan E. Nelson asks the same question in his book My Own Worst Enemy Why not deal with the behaviors in our lives, like anger, instead of falling over them again and again?  We can use the same process – Relax, Identify, and Take Ownership.

When it comes to issues such as anger in my family, I find great ideas from Focus on the Family.  Check out their series When Your Anger Gets the Best of You.

FAITH – Be angry, but don’t sin!

The Bible has a lot to say about anger and of course, Solomon has more wisdom for us (Prov. 29:11)

11 A foolish person lets his anger run wild.
But a wise person keeps himself under control. (NIRV)

He doesn’t say – a foolish person never gets angry.  But he does say, a wise person keeps it under control.  Just as Jesus did.  He certainly had many things with which to be angry.  In his sandals, I think I would have had the same feelings I have as a coach when I repeat the same things over and over, but players don’t respond and change.  But Jesus dealt with his anger, and even expressed the anger when it was justified.  Paul sums it up for us as well (Eph 4:26):

26 In your anger do not sin . . .



5 thoughts on “Good Decision Foes: Anger

  1. Totally agree! Control applies to all aspects of life. Great post.
    PS – Somebody needs to send this to Tom Crean. 😉

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