“An angry man stirs up conflict, and a hot-tempered man increases rebellion.” – Proverbs 29:22
Last year I heard a coach tell his ninth grade football team on game day, “I don’t want to hear any laughing or see any smiling. When you hit that field, you better be filled with anger.” Thirty minutes later, on the same campus, I heard the head varsity coach tell a player, “You cannot play angry. Why not? Do you make smart or stupid decisions when you play angry?” The boys answered correctly: stupid.
We learn in 3D Coaching that while short-term anger may have some immediate benefit, long-term anger will only hurt performance and cause all sorts of problems.
Like Balaam in Numbers 22:29, when we are challenged by the truth, our pride gets hurt and we lash out in anger. Like Cain who was jealous when his brother’s gift was accepted and his wasn’t (Genesis 4:3-7), we get resentful at another athlete’s success that we desire for ourselves. Like Haman, furious because Mordecai wouldn’t bow before him (Esther 3:1-6), we insist on getting our own way. We, like Saul who was envious to the point of rage over David’s popularity, our jealousy even keeps us from celebrating the success of our teammate.
Coaches and athletes often use anger to motivate. It is not smart because anger actually prevents focus and leads to foolish decisions. Anger is not nearly as motivating as love and joy. It is not difficult to think of examples of a player reacting in anger in way that hurts her and her team. In sport and in life, we need to be clearheaded, not hotheaded.
What triggers your anger when you compete?
What are some ways you can keep from reacting when you feel angry?
How can you and your teammates help each other stay clear headed?
Father, through your Holy Spirit keep me from sinning when I am angry, amen.