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Sports Psychology – Anger Management and Young Athletes

Many parents of young athletes are quite worried and concerned because their kids are getting frustrated and losing their tempers on the basketball court, the tennis court, the baseball field, the football field, the golf course, the soccer field or the hockey rink.

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Outward displays of severe anger or frustration are damaging to the children who are engaging in these acts and they can be quite disruptive to teams, coaches, parents, spectators and to sports in general. The media have reported some alarming examples of kids, parents and coaches losing their tempers.

Before we determine what kinds of help is required, I usually ask the following kinds of questions:

1. Does your child act out in other environments like school or home or are his or tantrums occurring in the sports environment?
2. Has your child been exposed to any kind of violence or loss of temper in the home or within the family?
3. What have you done to control your child’s behavior?
4. What seems to work and what has failed? Why?
5. Is there a history of depression, drug use or alcohol use in your family?
6. Do your other children have anger issues?
7. Many anger outbursts are preceded by frustration. If so, what is frustrating or bothering your child?
8. Is he or she overwhelmed with the pressure of sports and school?
9. Is your youngster feeling too much pressure from a coach or parent?
10. Is your child suffering from burn out?

The solutions to this problem can include anger management training, counseling, a change in the approach to sports, counseling to improve sports performance, team-building if the problem is related to personality conflicts with teammates, meetings with coaches and intervening with the child to prevent further outbursts. Also, angry outbursts can be a sign of underlying sadness, rage or depression. Do not hesitate to get professional help if you and your child are struggling with these kinds of dangerous emotions.

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