Trash talk in basketball from opponents and hecklers is common. “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. It’s just that you don’t want to see it ever cross the line and become personal, because the game of basketball is never that serious in regards to disrespecting people. So you have to leave it on the floor.”
So today we’ll take a look at how to deal with trash talk in basketball. We’ll share why players use it as a strategy, ways to improve your concentration, and tips for dealing with trash talk ahead of time and in the moment. So let’s get after it!
Trash talk is when a hooper says negative comments to or about a player, before, during, or after a game
Players use this tactic to intimidate their opponents. They try to disrupt their flow, and benefit from it. Part of Phoenix Mercury point guard, WNBA Champion and Olympic Gold Medalist Diana Taurasi’s infamous on-court persona is about showing her confidence to get into opponents’ heads. The other part is about winning. It’s a cycle that feeds itself — the more Diana talks, the better she plays, and vice versa.
“She gets on people. Just some of her combination of words — like, how do you even think of that?” said her Phoenix Mercury teammate Shey Peddy. “Sometimes she might get a technical for it, and I know a few times I’m talking to the ref like, ‘She didn’t mean that. She’s just joking around.’ She can be, uh, pretty ruthless out there.”
Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green is also notorious for trash talking and getting into the head of opposing players. “Everybody’s susceptible to that [trash talking]. I don’t care who you are.” said Draymond.
“The only time it’s really crossing the line, is bringing someone’s family into it or talking about race or gender or something. But when it’s just bad words or some cuss words, man, that’s emotions. You have to let it go and let it stay on the court.” said Golden State Warriors sharp shooting guard Klay Thompson.
Here’s a great story from The Champion’s Mind that sheds light into how to deal with trash talk in basketball. There once lived a great warrior. Though quite old, he was still able to defeat any challenger. His reputation extended far and wide throughout the land and many students gathered to study under him. One day an infamous young warrior arrived at the village. He was determined to be the first man to defeat the great master.
Along with his strength, the old master had an uncanny ability to spot and exploit any weakness in his opponent. He would wait for his opponent to make the first move, thus revealing a weakness, and then he would strike with merciless force and lightning speed. No one had ever lasted with him in a match beyond the first move. Much against the advice of his concerned students, the old master gladly accepted the young warrior’s challenge.
As the two squared off for battle, the your warrior began to hurl insults at the old master. He threw dirt in his face and spat at him. For hours he verbally assaulted him with every curse and insult known to mankind. But the old warrior merely stood there, motionless and calm. Finally, the young warrior exhausted himself. Knowing he was defeated, he left feeling shamed.
Somewhat disappointed that the old master did not fight the insolent youth, the students gathered and questioned him. “How could you endure such indignity? How did you drive him away?” “If someone comes to give you a gift and you do not receive it to whom does the gift belong?” the old master replied.
In short, don’t let others push your buttons. Refusing to let negativity from others get in the way of your preparation and performance is how you can “own your own buttons” and keep your emotions in check. You should be to ignore the noise both on and off the court – whether it’s articles news outlets write or things your opponents say.
One way to not let others influence you is to improve your concentration. “The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that the amount of concentration separates you. Everything starts to get in your head. If you can just look at one game at time, you’re able to really concentrate on what the task is at hand.” said Utah Jazz star point guard Donovan Mitchell.
Just focus your attention on what’s relevant to what you’re currently doing. Dr. Ronald Kimmons, Performance & Wellness Director for the Utah Jazz said, “Concentration is the ability to be present and be in the moment. You have to be able to slow your mind down when you’re trying to perform at a high level. Focus can be wide or narrow. You have to be able to distinguish between the two. But you use them both together. They’re like a dial in your mind that you’re constantly moving wide and narrow, wide and narrow.”
“The best thing to do when you find your focus is slipping is to take a deep calming breath, breathing in through your nose, allowing your lungs to fill up with air, and letting that breath out slowly, allowing yourself to come back to the moment.” Dr. Ronald explained.
Trash talk is a part of the game. But now you’re ready to deal with it. Up next, explore basketball leadership tips to elevate your game even further.