One of the Most Prevalent Misconceptions Among Athletes

Most people experience an uptick in their performance when they become angry. I’d be rich if I had a dollar for every athlete who has not just told me but exclaimed that they play better when angry. I will be the first to admit there is some truth to this… The problem is that, in this case, correlation does not equal causation.

This is such a widely held belief because when we get angry, and our performance improves, we make the logical assumption that the anger we feel is the driving force behind our improvement. This is like jumping to the conclusion that people pay more attention to what you are saying when you wear a red shirt. Even if that is factual, it’s not the shirt that is causing it.

So, what is the driving force behind people performing better when they are angry? Anger narrows your focus, and that focus is what drives your improved performance.

You may be thinking that since anger narrows my focus, the anger is, in fact, making me perform better. That is another great logical conclusion, but it only looks at one side of the anger.

Let me explain: it takes a large amount of energy to produce anger. As we use up our energy, our performance level starts to diminish. The problem lies in our center of attention being on the jump in our performance as soon as we are filled with anger, and that is what we remember.

You see, our brain notices dramatic changes – anger and an immediate jump in performance – but fails to comprehend smaller changes – energy depleting at a much faster but not immediately noticeable rate. As a result, our brain makes note of the boost and is unaware of the eventual cost of the reduction in performance over the remainder of the game or competition.

Next time you get angry about anything, try holding onto that anger as long as you can. I think you will be surprised how hard that is to do and how quickly you start to feel worn down.

In my next blog, I will talk about how I teach my athletes to maintain the focus that anger creates while letting the energy-draining anger go.


You can follow Sam on Twitter: @SuperTaoInc




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