Aggression & Anger In Sport

Managing Aggression & Anger

Within the sporting arena, aggression is often encouraged and many participants are praised for their “passion” and “committment”. Often this aggression is implicitly demanded or advocated by the fans and sometimes even the coaches.

We can all recall how passionate, committed and aggressive some of our Irish sports stars have been. Players such a Roy Keane are regularly celebrated by fans of both club and country. And for the most part, this aggression is a useful tool to the player.

However, in some cases, it can go too far – most people will recall Eric Cantona’s response to being harassed by an opposing fan after being sent off in a game.

When these events happen on the field of play they are dealt with by officials and associations, but when it carries on outside the playing arena, it can have a very bad effect on the life of the player and those around him or her.

Aggression is a set of behaviours that are intended or likely to cause harm to others. Many coaches encourage this kind of aggression, when they really mean they want the player to be more assertive on the field.

Assertive behaviours reflect behaviours that are physically vociferous, but do not contravene rules nor do they have the intent to harm, rather they are aimed at imposing influence and dominance.

These are behaviours that truly show the commitment of the player to his or her team and that endear them to fans.

Making The Right Decision

Aggression on the other hand, leads to expulsion from the game, and in some cases from the sport. There are three different typws of aggression – Assertive Behaviour, Instrumental Aggression and Hostile Aggression. Their characteristics are:

Aggessive Behaviour:

  • No Intent to Harm
  • Use of legitimate force
  • Involves unusual effort and energy

Instrumental Aggression:

  • Intent to harm
  • Goal is to win
  • There is no anger involved

Hostile Aggression:

  • Definite intent to harm
  • The goal is to harm the opponent
  • Involves unusual effort and energy

The Many Sources Of Frustration

Aggression is the “anger response” to frustration. On the field of play there are many sources of frustration. Perhaps a player is not getting the assistance they feel they deserve from their team-mates, maybe their opposite number is marking them out of the game, sometimes referees and umpires make mistakes in their calls. All of these situations can eventually lead to an aggressive outburst.

Quite often this is portrayed as acceptable because the player is releasing “pent up” frustrations.

If these displays of aggression are encouraged and even admired on the field of play, it can become the norm for the athlete to become aggressive when they experience frustrations off the field.When an athlete becomes aggressive on the field, they quite often carry that aggression into their everyday life.

Sports counselling Ireland offers a safe, non-judgemental place to explore these issues. We can help you to understand and deal with issues such as anger and aggression.

Our service is confidential and staffed by professionally trained counsellors.

Get In Touch TODAY!

Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or queries regarding any of my services using the form below.