How to Deal with Trash Talk

October 1, 2008 | Featured in the October 2008 Issue

When Muhammad Ali used words to gain a psychological advantage over George Forman, trash talk became an art form. Athletes of all sports–at one time or another–have had to hone their opponent-dissin’ skills. Drew Brannon of the University of Georgia’s Athletics Counseling and Sport Psychology Department explains how you can take your opponent’s trash and make it your treasure.

Whether it’s from an opponent across the line of scrimmage, a fan in the stands or a player riding the bench, “trash talking is an attempt to take your focus somewhere else,” Brannon says. Their success, though, is up to you.

“I’ve certainly known athletes who feel strongly that they thrive off that type of competition; and it’s hard to tell someone who feels that they do thrive that they don’t,” he says. “If you’ve got someone who, once their opponent starts talking with them, clearly picks up their game, then we have to leave that alone.

“But on the other hand,” he continues, “if [an opponent’s trash talking] kind of distracts [you] and changes [your] play in a negative fashion, then we’d want to try and do something [to change that].”

Brannon suggests having a mental plan in place for when trash is thrown your way during a game. “If my opponent says this to me,” Brannon explains, “then I’ve already pre-planned and have a routine where I’m thinking [that]. It helps [you] stay positive and focused on what [you’re] doing and not get distracted.”

Must See
Jadeveon Clowney on Making Big Hits
Views: 4,984,239
Skylar Diggins Attacks the Off-Season On and Off the Court
Views: 6,640,630
Derrick Rose Explains How He Stays Positive
Views: 5,971,757

Featured Videos

A Day in the Life of NBA D-League Star Seth Curry Views: 68,738
Kevin Love's Cone Hop Basketball Shooting Drill Views: 8,003
Eastbay Path to the Pros Episode 2: Laying the Groundwork Views: 131,367
Load More


STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers


Latest issues of STACK Magazine


Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice


Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes


Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Perfect Dwyane Wade's Signature Euro Step
Views: 1,308,758
What Ryan Hall Eats for Breakfast
Views: 795,255
STACK Fitness Weekly: How To Do a Muscle-Up
Views: 778,651
Greg Nixon's Hill Training Program
Views: 705,761
Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift
Views: 1,561,460

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

5 Turkey Bowl Pre-Game Pep Talks, Cheers and Chants

5 New Looks to Check Out on Opening Day

8 Star Athletes Who Had to Walk On to Their College Teams

5 NFL Players Who Were Never Supposed to Win Starting Jobs

Travis Kelce Could Be the Next Big Thing in the NFL

Southlake Carroll Personifies Enduring State of Texas Football

Preparation Nation: Bishop Gorman Basketball

The Reebok ZPump Fusion Is Like a Mold for Your Foot

Why You Need to Play Your Own Game

Preparation Nation: Santa Monica Vikings

6 Skinny Pro Athletes Who Dominate Their Sport

10 Ways to Earn More Playing Time This Season

WATCH: How 3 College Football Teams Make Workouts a Blast

Preparation Nation: Crespi Carmelite Celts

Preparation Nation: Pulaski Academy Bruins

How to Stick to Your New Year's Resolutions

The Hustle Stat: Aspects of Your Game that Catch the NBA's Eye

Losing Fat: How to Stay Focused During the Holidays

Franco Harris

4 Excuses Elite Athletes Never Make

7 Inspirational Athletes and Coaches Who Stand Tall

Preparing for AAU Season: What You Need to Know

Preparation Nation: Sierra Canyon Basketball

Preparation Nation: Servite Friars

SURVIVING SEALFIT: Finding the Silver Lining

Craig Breslow

Workout Motivation: Principles for Training Like a Champion

How Getting Cut Taught Me The Meaning of Hard Work

How to Learn Pull-Ups (Or Anything Else for That Matter)

Video Documents Man's Journey to 600-Pound Squat

What's the Most Effective Coaching Style?

Become Task-Oriented and Good Outcomes Will Follow

How to Be a Quiet Leader

3 Personality Traits for Creating a Winning Team Culture

Preparation Nation: Carter Cowboys

7 Reasons to See

How to Motivate Athletes to Train on Their Own