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Anger management in sport : understanding and controlling by Mitch Abrams







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Further research over time has expanded our knowledge about the relationship between arousal and performance. For one thing, although the relationship is called the Yerkes–Dodson law, a more appropriate title may be the inverted U hypothesis because the word law implies that the relationship holds without exception. We have learned that the Yerkes–Dodson law is more like a theme that is affected by various factors. To clarify, it is true that at extremely low levels of arousal—when sleeping, for example—perfor- A New Understanding of Anger and Violence in Sport І 19 mance on most tasks is correspondingly poor.

At that time, on average more than one fight per game occurred. The “Great One” was extremely quick and skillful, but he was only 6 feet (183 centimeters) tall and weighed about 185 pounds (84 kilograms). If not for the protection of Mark Messier and Marty McSorley, Gretzky’s numbers might not have been so gaudy. The NHL started instituting rules such as the third-man-in rule in 1977, which gave an automatic ejection to the first player to join a fight already in process. The instigator rule added an additional two-minute penalty to any player who started a fight, and two violations in a game became grounds for ejection.

Some of it was deliberate and psychologically grounded. He was one of the first athletes to talk about how he mastered the mental side of the game. He would deliberately torment his opponents to gain the upper hand, as evidenced by this statement: Most of all I was saddling that team with a psychological burden so that they would be muttering, Cobb is crazy. He’ll run anytime and in any situation. It would help give them the jitters and they’d concentrate so much on me they were not paying any attention to the business at hand.

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