Tired of being angry

Michael Iaconelli

About the author

Michael Iaconelli

Michael Iaconelli

Michael Iaconelli is the only angler to have won the Bassmaster Classic, Bassmaster Angler of the Year and B.A.S.S. Nation Championship.

I guess when I stop to think about it, I was tired of being angry. That’s the best way I know to explain it — why I went to see sports psychologist, Beth Howlett Ph.D. There were other things involved (like seeing what they did for some of the other guys), but the main thing was anger. Being mad all the time is hard ... and counterproductive.

Dr. Howlett is a really smart lady. She’s the Director of the Widener University Student & Community Counseling Center. She also works with Dr. Joel Fish (I’m not making that up, guys. Tell me that’s not really cool?) and the Center for Sport Psychology. They specialize in helping competitive athletes like me get the most out of our performances.

I had (OK, have) an anger problem. In the past — especially — I’d let it get out of control and ruin my whole day or my whole tournament. If something went wrong, it was an event disaster, not a temporary setback. That’s not how you get to the top in a professional sport, or in anything else for that matter.

Anger should only be used as a motivator. It’s something to be looked at as another challenge to overcome. You control it. It doesn’t control you.

Last week we talked about my losing that 6-pound bass. Sure, it upset me. I might even have said a few things I’d just as soon nobody heard. But — and here’s the important part — I didn’t let it ruin my whole day or my whole tournament.

Losing a big fish hurts. Still, this is fishing. I was throwing plugs. When you throw plugs some of your fish will come unbuttoned. It’s the nature of the bait. There was no cosmic force after me, and I certainly don’t suffer from any sort of bad luck or curse. The bass tossed my crankbait back at me. So what? It happens.

One of the things we developed to help me think that way is a logo I use in a lot of my marketing. It’s a cartoon image of me with "Never Give Up!" under it in funky letters. It’s now on the bow of my boat where I can see it while I’m fishing and especially if I’m having a tough time.

It’s a reminder that I should follow my own advice and that I’m not suffering the wrath of some unseen force that’s out to get me. When I see it, I immediately realize I’m blessed, and that if I want to stay blessed I’d better get myself under control, put my head down and start catching keeper bass.

They don’t bite when you’re stomping around on the deck cursing your supposed bad luck. They bite when you calmly and methodically fish for them.

If you’re a serious competitor who needs a little help with your head, I recommend you see a sports psychologist. They can help you win. They know stuff.

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