Sportopedia Glossary

Anger Management

Anger Management

Anger Management: In comparison to management of anxiety, anger management has received far less attention and most discussion regarding anger in sports is descriptive rather than prescriptive. With few studies examining anger management programs in sport (Brunelle, Janelle, & Tennant, 1999; Steffgen, 2017), this area of research remains mostly uncharted. Abrams (2010), besides offering anger management programs as well as systemic interventions for anger-related problems, also discussed the relationship between drugs and violence, as well as the interface between mental illness and anger problems.

Anger is multiply determined. And, thus, anger management must include both skills training as well as examination of the underlying causes that contribute to angry feelings. Consideration of clinical symptoms should be done both before and during anger management so as to avail the athlete to treatment of those conditions. Anger can take multiple forms, such as the externalization of depression or anxiety. It can be the manifestation of relationship problems or a residual of previous trauma.

Therefore, it is recommended that a screening for emotional problems that may need addressing be completed prior to the initiation of anger management. Presuming there are no circumstances that preclude the athlete from beginning anger management, Abrams (2010) recommended the following skills to be taught: normalization and validation, emotion labeling, teaching physiology of anger, de-escalation/relaxation techniques (i.e., diaphragmatic breathing, imagery/visualization, progressive muscle
relaxation, utility of music, mindfulness/re-centering, distraction techniques), trigger recognition, cognitive restructuring, problem solving, assertiveness/communication training, prediction of consequences, moral development, and evaluation and modification.


Abrams, M. (2010). Anger management in sport: Understanding and controlling violence in athletes. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Brunelle, J. P., Janelle, C. M., & Tennant, L. K. (1999). Controlling competitive anger among soccer players. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology., 20, 73 87.

Steffgen, G. (2017). Anger management – Evaluation of a cognitive-behavioral training program for table tennis players. Journal of Human Kinetics., 55, 65 73.

***Contributed by Mitch Abrams for Hackfort, D., Schinke, R. J., & Strauss, B. (Eds.). (2019). Dictionary of sport psychology: sport, exercise, and performing arts. Academic Press.