Quick, Easy Ways of Coping With Trash Talkers

Not every athlete plays fair. If you compete in sports, then you have probably encountered opponents playing dirty and trying to win using unfair tricks. The most common and most effective way of “playing dirty,” is trash talking. Trash talkers try to get in your head to make you lose focus and concentration by taunting and/or disrespecting your talent. In the face of trash talk, mentally strong athletes remain focused, confident, and relaxed. However, others who cannot ignore the trash talkers will be influenced for the worse. This lack of emotional control can lead to aggression and frustration in the heat of competition. To avoid these emotions, follow these steps of staying focused when faced with trash-talking:

  1. Talk about the issue and spread awareness with your coach and teammates.

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If you participate in team sports, it’s important to address the problem with your team. Let them know how the trash talk and unfair play of the opposing team can affect them and how to cope with it. If you and your team are prepared and an incident occurs, the players will be automatically reminded of the precautions you talked about. By doing this, you and your teammates may have your back. Similarly, you should do the same for your fellow teammate which will enhance everyone's performance.

2. Ignore the trash talking.

Of course, you will notice the negative side marks of your opponents, but it is necessary to stay calm to maintain composure and focus on your game when needed. If you stay calm and ignore the comments, you will often frustrate the trash talker and even beat them in the mental battle. However, if the taunts do affect you, it is important to not look frustrated. In a sense, embrace it! Pretend that you don’t notice the trash-talking and focus on your next play. Do not focus on the past and trash talk, but rather concentrate on your performance. You can do this by smiling at the trash talkers or just by looking away. You need to keep composure and your negative thoughts inside of you, as trash-talking back or insulting them lets them know that they succeded. 

3. Understand that talking is “cheap”  

As an athlete, you probably have heard that “talk is cheap” and to “let your play do the talking.” But what does that really mean?

When confronted with trash talkers you get frustrated and probably want to insult your opponents. However, that is exactly what your opponents want. They want you to get aggressive and lose focus. In these situations, you need to ignore the trash-talking, as said above. This allows you to refocus and get back in your zone. Your opponents will get frustrated that their mental warfare is not successful if they see you playing better despite the taunts. Therefore, you should not focus on insulting your opponents but on keeping your game up.


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Imagine you are playing a basketball game and your team is losing by 15 points in the third quarter. The opponents are taunting you and trash-talking your whole team. You can feel the frustration and anxiety in the gym. Suddenly a teammate of yours decides to insult the trash talkers. At this moment your teammate has allowed the opponents to win the mental warfare, as he isn’t concentrating on the game anymore, but insulting the other team. Therefore it is essential to firstly concentrate on the game, ignore the trash-talking and let your play do the talking.

Nobody wants to play against trash talkers but it can always happen and it is inevitable. Even though trash talking is an unfair and unpleasant way of attempting to win, it will always exist and it is your responsibility to know how to cope with trash talkers. “Trash-talking is part of the game,” Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry said. “You have to give it. You have to be able to take it.”

Works Cited

Cohn, Patrick. “Coping With Trash Talkers in Sports: Sports Psychology Articles.” Sports Psychology Articles | Sport Psychology Articles for Athletes, Coaches, and Sports Parents, 29 June 2019, www.peaksports.com/sports-psychology-blog/how-to-cope-with-trash-talkers-in-sports/#:~:text=A Tip For Winning The Trash Talk War:&text=If you do hear it, you stuck in the past

“Frustration and Aggression in Sports.” Sports Psychology Today – Sports Psychology, November 29, 2019, by Emma Karamovic www.sportpsychologytoday.com/youth-sports-psychology/trash-talk-can-lead-to-frustration-and-aggression-in-sports/ 

“Student-Athletes Partake in Trash Talk Culture.” Student-Athletes Partake in Trash Talk Culture | Saratoga Falcon, www.saratogafalcon.org/content/student-athletes-partake-trash-talk-culture 

“Trash Talking In Sports - The Sports Column: Sports Articles, Analysis, News and Media.” The Sports Column | Sports Articles, Analysis, News and Media, 2 Mar. 2018, www.thesportscol.com/2018/03/trash-talking-in-sports/

Bumbaca, Chris. “Tyrann Mathieu, in since-Deleted Tweet, Says Tom Brady 'Called Me Something I Won't Repeat'.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 8 Feb. 2021, www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/super-bowl/2021/02/07/tyrann-mathieu-tom-brady-super-bowl-55-deleted-tweet/4432357001/.


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