Page last updated at 10:39 GMT, Monday, 28 December 2009

Bangor scientists say anger helps in some sports

Joe Calzaghe lays into Byron Mitchell
Boxing is one sport where properly harnessed anger can help

When boxers trade insults before a big fight it might be more than just showmanship, say sport psychologists.

For researchers at Bangor University in Gwynedd have found that anger, if effectively harnessed, can improve performance in certain sports.

Happiness on the other hand, does not help, as it suggests contentment.

The research was carried out after it was discovered that little work had been done into the effect of anger on sports performance.

Psychologists said participants who recreated anger improved their performance by up to 25%.

However, this was only in actions such as kicking or striking out - activities that reflected a natural expression of anger, as opposed to more complex tasks.

The hope of success also increased the performance of semi-professional football players who were recruited in a football related task for the trials.

Wales and Manchester City striker Craig Bellamy vents his frustration
For anger to be effective as a performance tool, it needs to be harnessed and then released into a high energy task such as kicking or punching
Dr Tim Woodman, Bangor University

But happiness was not found to improve performance, as researchers note that it suggests contentment with things as they are.

Effect of anxiety

"It has long been established that an individual's performance will be affected by their emotional state, but little research has been done, other than in the effect of anxiety on performance," said Dr Tim Woodman, the lead author of the research.

"We found that effort and performance both increased when we induced a sense of hope of success or anger in our participants," he added.

However, anger did not help people perform any better in mental tasks, but was very effective in movements that reflected the natural tendency in such a condition to "lash out" at something.

"For anger to be effective as a performance tool, it needs to be harnessed and then released into a high energy task such as kicking or punching," he added.

The effect of anger was also affected by the personality of the person involved.

"Interestingly, we found that only the performance of people with an extrovert personality benefits from expressing their anger in these channelled activities," said Dr Woodman.

"This may be because they find it easier to express their emotions in public," he added.



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