Trash Talk and Taking Your Game to the Next Level

The NBA Playoff conference finals are mid-series right now and there are a lot of stories about the game within the game. My hometown Pacers are facing elimination at the hands of the Miami Heat and the match-up between two players has been highlighted, and not necessarily for on-court reasons.

Who wins when it comes to trash talk?

Lance Stephenson and LeBron James have exchange some words on the court as well as off the court through the media. Most of it was initiated by Lance. Trash talk for some is part of the game, and part of their strategy to win. It can completely take some players out of their games, while making others take their game to the next level.

Based on the results and Lance's own admission after the Pacers-Heat game four it seemed to take LeBron's game higher, while Lance wasn't the same. How do your kids and the players you coach handle trash talk? Do they initiate it? Do you allow it?

While you may not allow your kids to trash talk, it's going to be hard for them to avoid hearing it, especially as they continue to play at higher levels. So, what do you do to help your kids handle trash talk? And how do you help your kids take their games to the next level.

How to help your kids handle trash talk and take their game to the next level

  1. Teach them to focus. One of the biggest things trash talk does is take the focus off what needs to be done on the court. Teach your kids to focus on what they can control. They can't control what another player says or does, just like they can't control the calls by an official. Teach them how and where to focus their energies.
  2. Don't feel they have to retaliate. I have to say trash talking was fun for me. While I didn't initiate a lot of it, I admit I took part when someone trash talked me. Looking back I'd say that's not the best strategy. When someone trash talks your kids they don't have to return the favor, just like when they are fouled hard they don't have to return the favor.
  3. Know the best trash talk is your performance. While I did trash talk, the best way to get the best of my opponent was my performance on the court, and helping my team finish with more points when the buzzer sounded. Teach your kids to win on the court with their play, not their mouths.
  4. Have confidence in themselves. Trash talk can make a player doubt themselves. But a player who puts in the work believes in their ability. One of the best way to do that is train hard during the season as well as in off season training. As the summer approaches you can help your kids take their games to new levels by implementing summer workouts. This training will help them improve, build their confidence, and help them handle trash talk or any adversity they face during a game.

What is your approach in handling trash talk?

Jackie Bledsoe  is a sports parent of three, and writes on sports parenting. He has played sports for over 30 years, including the collegiate level, and coached youth sports for the past eight years.  

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