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From The CriticsReviewer: Michael C Hawthorne, PhD (The Northshore Group)
Description: With this book, the author puts the topics of anger and violence in athletes and athletics in a comprehensive sociological, psychological, and physiological context. This book seeks to provide an understanding of excessive anger and violence within the special culture of sport while challenging biases and myths that pervade the societal view and contaminate what little research previously has been conducted on these topics. Based on his clinical experience in a variety of settings, the author also provides outlines for related intervention programs he has developed and delivered.
Purpose: Both the title and preface promise a practical handbook of strategies and programs for teaching anger management skills and advancing the emerging best practices in sports psychology. However, the strength of this book is the wide-ranging and comprehensive context in which the author sets anger and violence in sports; more than half the book is devoted to this mission. Dealing effectively with anger management in sports is of growing importance and there isn't a great deal written on the special challenges of learning and applying anger and impulse management techniques in the competitive and high stakes world of sports, for actions both on and off the field. Coaches, trainers, psychologists, physicians, and drug and alcohol counselors all are involved in assisting athletes with this and they all could benefit from a resource book rich in practical applications. This book disappoints, though, by devoting only one chapter to anger management techniques per se and one to the prevention of sexual violence.
Audience: The book is aimed at treating professionals who will be working directly with athletes referred for anger management and/or violent incidents. It also would make a suitable textbook for students in the field. The author clearly is an expert in this area. He knows both psychology and sports, so he has "street cred" with both other professionals and the athletes with whom he works.
Features: Most of the book aims for a systematic understanding of anger and violence in sports by way of reviewing psychological theories of aggression and learning, psychopathology, and topics such as the influence of drugs in problems of impulse control. The author develops this context while citing numerous stories of aggression and violence in sports over the decades, from the belligerence of Ty Cobb to the punch that realigned the facial bones of Rudy Tomjanovich. When the author shifts more to intervention than understanding, he includes a helpful list of techniques that help athletes and nonathletes alike. The book also includes an excellent discussion of sexual violence and a program for its prevention among athletes.
Assessment: This is an important topic to all involved in sports — from athletes and their loved ones to coaches, university deans, and team owners. This book will help treatment professionals understand the topic in a broad context as they help athletes learn to deal with their anger and aggression. Perhaps the author will follow up this strong development of the topic's background with another book that is more practically focused. Treating professionals also would benefit from the author's experience and resource kit of techniques that promote experiential learning and developmental growth with a clinical population who are always busy, often entitled, and frequently resistant to intervention.