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Dealing With Anger in Competition

By Kay Porter, PhD, Porter Performance Systems, Eugene, OR

Two athletes I worked with had major issues around anger and competition. After three sessions each, both had good control of their tempers before during and after competitions.

One, a sprinter, found success by focusing on her strengths, and saying and remembering affirmations about these strengths, as well as a few about letting go of anger and mistakes. She would say these things to herself several times each day. When she was competing, she would think of a single word, such as “aggressive,” or “focus.” The following affirmations were helpful to her:

I’m a smart runner.

I’m the best sprinter on the team.

I’m real aggressive.

I’m a good team member.

I’ve got a good positive attitude!

I’m quick and fast.


I mentally let go of mistakes easily.

I run more aggressively each meet.

I am as relaxed in meets as I am in practice.

I am calm, cool and collected on the track.

I easily forgive myself for mistakes.

I have good concentration and focus the entire race.

I stop worrying about what people think.

I let go of what people think about me.

I have fun running and competing.

The middle distance runner would get furious with himself if he started to lose or was passed.  His negative self talk was cursing at himself, talking to himself saying, “Dummie, come on; What’s wrong with you! You’re running like #%$*. You can’t lose to this joke.” If he got mad, he would stay mad, and end up blowing up. Affirmations that helped him were:

I forgive myself for being passed.

I encourage and support myself with my talk.

I let go anger or fear and focus on my body and my pace.

During each lap, I let go of the last lap and think about my pace and form.

I run aggressively and well, especially if I’m behind.

I think positively during a race.

I am mentally tough in each race I run.

When I’m ahead, I run even more aggressively.

I love running well, and I have fun competing.

I am calm, cool and collected in a race.


This list of questions can be helpful to athletes in assessing their anger. The questions can be used alone or as part of a group/team discussion with suggestions of how to deal with anger in competition.

  1. I get angry when …
  2. How I am currently dealing with my anger during competition is.…
  3. How I would like to constructively handle my anger in competition is…
  4. Five affirmations to help me handle my anger in a positive way are.… 

The following visualization can be read once or twice a day. For best results, you can record it in your own voice and listen to it daily. 


by Kay Porter, PhD, Porter Performance Systems, Eugene, OR

 Find a comfortable place to sit or lie….Begin to breathe deeply….taking a deep breathe, holding it….and letting it go with a sigh….breathing in….and letting it out….breathing in energy….breathing out peace….relax you shoulders….your neck….soften your abdomen and stomach….and begin to feel yourself to be centered, whole and balanced….begin to imagine gold, white or green light coming into the top of your head, and down into your body, coming out through your solar plexus into the air in front of you….feel your solar plexus to be powerful and strong….with the light and energy flowing out of it….feeling and seeing the light coming down into the top of your head, down your spine, into the area above your waist and below your chest….flowing through your body and out, relaxing your solar plexus….feeling relaxed….powerful….and with a flexibility and suppleness around this area….imagine it pulsating with the passage of this energy from the top of your head and down through it….

Think of the last time you were angry in a competition or practice….or of the list you just made on anger….Begin to acknowledge any feelings of anger you might have during competition or practice….remembering the list of things that make you angry….and as each item of anger comes up….acknowledge it and thank it for making itself known to you….take some time to think of each angry thought….acknowledge it and say to it, “I thank you, and I welcome you (and think of being angry); My anger is welcome here; you are welcome here and I acknowledge you and let you flow through me”….and let yourself imagine the angry feelings flowing through your solar plexus, out the front of you and flowing out through the middle of your back as well; dispersing outside your body….just passing through, as if you were transparent….the anger flows in and the anger flows out….there is no place for it to stay in your body….it is just flowing through you….imagine yourself surrendering to the flow….the anger moving on through your solar plexus as a light breeze….and passing through the area above your waist, without pain or anxiety, just as if you were watching of feeling a soft breeze….continue to imagine the light flowing down from the top of your head, down your spine and out through your solar plexus….your body and mind feeling strong, powerful and centered….

Begin to say your affirmations about your anger….”I let go of my anger easily….I am in control of myself on the court/field/track….I am powerful and centered….It is easy for me to forgive myself….I easily let go of mistakes of mistakes….I am calm, cool and collected….I am mentally tough….I am focused and concentrated….I encourage and support myself….I am a positive athlete”….Begin to imagine yourself handling your anger in a calm, comfortable and powerful way….see, hear and feel yourself succeeding….handling your anger….feeling powerful and in control….feeling your solar plexus to be strong and flexible….knowing you are in control and are worthy of your accomplishments….feeling your strength and power….acknowledging your anger and letting it go….going on to succeed….to achieve your goals and dreams….knowing that you have what it takes to be successful and to overcome any obstacles, including any anger you might have or feel….you are good enough….you are worthy of respect and achievement….you are safe and in control….you are powerful….

Begin to remember a time when you were totally confident and in control of yourself during a competition, or in practice….Allow yourself to see, feel and hear the events of that time….let all the images come back to your awareness….feeling the feelings of pride, joy, freedom….all the power and strength of that time….your own self approval….self acceptance….that feeling of well being and a job well done….the feeling of competence.