Take Out the Trash: Why Athletes Should Stop Talking Smack

Take Out the Trash: Why Athletes Should Stop Talking Smack

Why do athletes engage in trash talking? What are their reasons? Is it necessary or beneficial to participate in such behavior? Are there any advantages to being a good trash talker? How does one go about becoming a great trash talker?

All these questions will be answered here. Let’s start with some basic definitions.

What is Trash Talk?

Trash talk is the verbal abuse of another person. It may include insults, threats, or other forms of aggressive language. Some types of trash talk are more common than others; however, all forms of trash talking have their place in competitive sports. There are many different kinds of trash talking that occur during games and competitions. For example, during a football game, players might make obscene gestures at each other while yelling obscenities. During basketball games, players may yell out vulgar comments about the opposing team members. And so forth.

Why Do Athletes Use Trash Talk?

There are several reasons why athletes engage in trash talking. One reason is because they enjoy doing it! Another reason is that it helps them improve their skills and become better competitors. There are many benefits to trash talking. Let’s discuss some of them here.

Why Use Trash Talk in Sports?

Trash talking helps you prepare yourself mentally for a big game or match. It prepares your body, mind, and spirit for the major competition ahead. Many athletes use motivational techniques to help improve their chances of winning a big event. They may listen to music, visualize their success, or practice positive thinking. However, these strategies don’t work for everyone. Some people may need to employ more direct methods of preparation. Making nasty comments about the other team is one way of motivating yourself to win. For some people, it works very well!

In addition, trash talking indirectly helps you to manage your anxiety levels. For instance, one cause of anxiety is a fear that you may not perform as well as you would like to. This can often lead to feelings of doubt and uncertainty.

But if you can direct your negative emotions into something more productive, then you may be able to remove those feelings of anxiety altogether. Trash talking helps you to do this!

Does Trash Talk Always Work?

Even though trash talking can improve one’s chances of winning, it does not always work. Depending on the situation, the trash talking may not have a positive effect on you or your team members. Other times, the opposing team may not be susceptible to such tactics. Sometimes trash talking can even backfire and have the complete opposite effect of what you were going for!

For example, some athletes become so overwhelmed with anger that they lose their focus. Instead of playing their best, they play not to lose. This is obviously not a winning formula!

In addition, opposing teams may become enraged by the trash talk and play harder than ever before. The increased anger helps to motivate them and give them an extra edge during the game!

The Motivational Benefits of Trash Talking

In any case, trash talking does have many benefits, even if it doesn’t always work! The following are just a few of the major benefits of trash talking:

It allows you to practice anticipatory thinking. Anticipatory thinking involves coming up with several different scenarios of what may happen and how you will react or respond accordingly. This is an important aspect of competition because it allows one to prepare for the worst.

By thinking through various situations, one can mitigate their fears and anxiety related to the unknown.

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It allows you to release any frustration or anger that you may have. Frustration and anger can be negative emotions during competition. However, if you can learn how to use them to your advantage, then you may be able to use this as a tool for success rather than let it get the best of you.

Trash talking is a way of distracting your opponents. During competition, you may not be the only one playing the game. There is always the coach, the fans, and everyone else who is watching.

These people can be a source of emotional support or a distraction. By using trash talk, you are distracting your opponents and taking their focus off of the game. This gives you a slight advantage over them.

The Importance of Control

Trash talking is all about attitude and control. Remember, it is all in how you approach the game. If you look at competition as a negative and use trash talk as a way of provoking others, then chances are you are going to suffer from the negative effects that come with it!

Instead, you need to take control over the situation by using trash talk as a way of challenging yourself and controlling your mental state.

Trash talking can be an effective tool, but only when used the right way.

Trash talking is not just a way of provoking others or acting like a bully. Instead, it is a tool that you can use to control your own mind and give yourself the extra motivation that you need to succeed!

In order to maximize the benefits of trash talking, it is important to use it when you are fully focused. If you are trying to do too many things at once, then your trash talk may come across as half-hearted or insincere. Instead, pick a time where you can focus all of your attention on the trash talking itself.

By doing this, you can make your trash talking more effective!

You can also try to use the same types of trash talk each time. By consistently using the same types of trash talk, you can establish a reputation. Your reputation will make your trash talking more effective because your opponents will know what to expect and they’ll have an idea of what you’re trying to do.

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Now that we’ve gone over some of the major benefits of trash talking, let’s go over some examples of different types of trash talk you can use during competition!

Examples of Trash Talk

There are many types of trash talk that you can use during competition. It is important to remember that the goal of trash talk isn’t to anger or offend your opponents but rather to make them lose focus and give your team the advantage! Here are some common examples of types of trash talk you can use during competition.

Yes, you can be a sweet talker!

Commending your opponents on their abilities

Sometimes it is best not to insult your opponents but rather to give them a genuine compliment on something that they’re good at. This works especially well when the opposing team is made up of people who are much better than you in some way. For example, if you’re playing a team of professional basketball players, you should definitely acknowledge their basketball skills and mention that you really liked them in that movie you saw them in.

This is a little different than commending your opponent’s sportsmanship or complimenting them on how they conducted themselves during the match. Instead, you’re specifically mentioning a skill of theirs that you acknowledge as something that they’re better at than you. This can be a great way of breaking the tension during the match and getting your opponent to calm down if they’re getting angry at your other types of trash talk.

This is a great way of taking the wind out of your opponent’s sails and making them lose some of that competitive fire. The last thing you want is for your opponents to get so angry that they lose all concentration and start making mistakes. That’s why it is important to use all the tools at your disposal, and that even includes being nice every once in a while!

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You don’t need to overdo it with the compliments though. A couple of well placed ones here and there will go a long way towards helping you achieve your goal.

Accusing your opponents of cheating

This is probably one of the most effective types of trash talk because everyone knows that it gets right to everyone’s head and causes them to start doubting themselves.

This is especially effective when it’s used during a game that is going on for a long time. For example, if you’re playing a soccer match and your opponent passes the ball to their teammate and then they end up scoring a goal, you can accuse them of making an illegal pass.

There is a good chance that the referee will ask for your opponents to do the action over again just to avoid any potential problems later on in the game. If your opponents aren’t paying too much attention or they’re generally being unsportsmanlike, they might very well do the move over again, making them even more confused as to why you are accusing them of cheating.

If they aren’t actually cheating though then this could backfire and you could end up looking like the fool, so it is always best to be careful when you decide to accuse someone of something like this.


Just like in real life, you have to make decisions as to how you are going to get along with your teammates. Sometimes you’re going to be in a great mood and the stuff that your teammates say is going to seem funny to you no matter what it is. On the opposite side of the spectrum, there are going to be times where you just aren’t in the mood and everything your teammates do is going to irritate you.

This is going to directly affect how you are going to respond to the trash talk from your opponents.

If you’re in a bad mood, then the verbal abuse from the other team is going to get under your skin a lot more and you’re going to respond with insults of your own. You’ll also probably choose to ignore any compliments that they give you, no matter how true they may be.

If you’re in a good mood, then the compliments that your opponents give you are going to make you more confident and you’re probably going to brag a little bit more about your skills. If their insults get to you though then you’re going to start yelling and overreacting which isn’t going to help your situation at all.

It is important to note that not every interaction with your teammates is going to be charming. In fact, most of them are going to be pretty annoying. This is why it is important to try to control your mood when you’re interacting with them if you want to get the best results.

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Moods in games like this are usually pretty easily swayed one way or the other though so even if you’re having a bad day you can still end up turning it around and having a good interaction with them, you’ll just have to try a little harder.

As you might’ve guessed, each of your potential teammates is going to have their own unique personality. It is going to be up to you to determine how you want to interact with each of them if you want to get the best results. For example, if you’re interacting with the team captain, Corina, it would probably be a good idea to try to make her feel appreciated.

This might increase her determination to keep up the hard work that it takes to run the team.

If you talk down to her or accuse her of something, then she’s probably not going to be in the best of moods and is going to end up resenting you for speaking down to her. This might cause her not to work as hard and if the team isn’t working well together, then your whole team is going to suffer.

This is just one of the many unique character relationships that you’re going to have to form over the course of running this inn, so choose wisely when picking your interactions.

“Well I guess we should get started then.”

You pick out three of the potential students that you think would be best for the team. You explain that if they get accepted they’ll be joining the rowing team to which they all seem pretty excited about. Going by your judgment of their athletic ability and their general physical appearance you think that all three of them are going to get along well with the rest of the team.

The three students seem pretty happy about this. They’re even happier though when you explain that they can move in today and that their first month’s rent has been taken care of. After a bit more discussion you send them off and remind them to come see you or Morri if they have any questions.

What about me? When can I move in?”

Martha asks as you’re ushering the kids out the door.


You can move in anytime you like. The room is yours if you want it.” You reply.

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“That’s great, I’ll start bringing my stuff over tomorrow!”

You just smile and nod and then head back into your office. Once you’re back at your desk, you stop for a moment to just mentally check out for a second.

You can’t believe everything that you’ve accomplished in such a short amount of time. You didn’t think you were going to be able to pull it off, but you managed to not only save this place, but also turn it profitable within a single year. Granted you put a lot more work into it than what Marik did, but then you had a bigger purpose than making money.

You wanted to prove to yourself and everyone else that you could do it without drugs. That you were still a survivor.

It’s funny how things change, now people are looking up to you and considering you some sort of role model. When you were a kid no one looked twice at you, let alone considered you someone to aspire to be like. If anything, you were usually a target of bullying.

You can’t say you hated it, because you had Lisa and without her you would have absolutely loathed every day of it. The problem is, she left and nothing you did could bring her back.

In any case, after being here for a while you managed to get your own place and now you’ve taken over an old time inn that used to be one of the last stops on the old trading route.

You buy it from Marik since no one else was interested in it and you have big plans to completely transform it.

Now the tavern is absolutely thriving with activity all throughout the day. You’ve not only managed to keep it profitable, but you’re turning a nice little profit each week.

You also have your own apartment and now have employees that actually do all the work for you. You pay them of course, but still it’s not like you have to spend all your free time here anymore like you were required to in the beginning.

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This is the life!

Of course now you realize that you probably should have set things up so you didn’t have to work quite as hard now, but then if you had, you probably wouldn’t have been as happy.

Still, there are times when you wonder if you shouldn’t just hire some more people, so you could really take a step back. You think you’ll start looking into it in the next few days.

Lisa would be so proud of you.

Speaking of Lisa, you’ve been meaning to ask Jennifer to fix that hole in the wall between the apartments, but you just keep forgetting. You’ll get to it eventually though.

You suppose now that you don’t have to worry about the inn anymore, you could go back to doing what you used to do and just write in your spare time.

You’re sure you could easily get funding for a book if you wanted to.

Hell, maybe you could even open up another inn in another city.

The possibilities are endless now.

Always thinking big, that’s part of why you’re successful.

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You hear a knock on your door. Must be those new employees now, though you aren’t expecting anyone, but you welcome the distraction anyway.

You head to the door and open it.

“I…” You begin to say before stopping.

It isn’t your employees.

Instead it’s a little girl with a tattered dress standing there. She looks up at you with big eyes. For a moment you wonder if this is Lisa, but her hair is a much darker brown than Lisa’s was.

Can I help you?”

You ask.

“Are you Mr.


She asks.

“Gideon will do fine. And yes I am.”

“I’m Rose. Mistress sent me to give you a message.”

Really? And what message would that be?”

“That you’re to come to the graveyard right away.”

Is that it?”

“Yes, please come quick. We need you.” The girl, Rose, says.

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“Yes, my brother and me. That’s who Miss Lisa sent for.”

“I’m not sure if I should go getting involved with a family that has a graveyard in their backyard. That seems a bit morbid.”

“It’s not our backyard. It’s on our street. There’s a difference.

Besides, it’s perfectly normal for ghosts to haunt the place they died.”

“I suppose that’s true at least in some cases…Alright, I’ll be there soon.”

“Yay! Thank you! I have to go tell my brother, he’s really scared.

Bye! Oh and the graveyard is behind our house, you can’t miss it. That way.” Rose says excitedly before running off.

That way? Isn’t that the wrong way? How would I know which way that is?

North, south, or… Hey wait! Don’t tell me, I’m supposed to…” You begin to say before the girl is out of earshot, but you shake your head and smile. “Kids. Gotta love ’em.”

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You get to your feet and head out the door. On your way out, you nearly bump into Lisa. You were so focused on getting to the girl that you didn’t even see her standing their in the hallway.

“Excuse me.” You say and move past Lisa.

Where are you going?”

Lisa asks.

“To your house, I guess. Some kid came by and told me to go to the graveyard behind your house because you needed help. I assume it’s her brother that I’m supposed to be looking for.” You answer.

Rose is here?”

“Yeah, she just came in and told me to come to the graveyard. Didn’t even say hello, just told me to go to the graveyard, then ran off again.”

“That sounds like her. I told her to go home and not to bother anyone. She must have forgotten already.

That’s a good sign though, usually she remembers and ignores what I say.”

Lisa doesn’t move from in front of you, instead she asks, “So are you going to go?

To the graveyard I mean.”

“Well I was on my way there when you stopped me. Of course if you need help with something else feel free to ask. I’m not leaving until tomorrow anyway.

I have the day free.” You respond.

“It’s just that, Rose is sort of…impulsive.

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If you go to the graveyard, it’s going to be for a good reason. There’s danger there.”

Danger? What kind of danger?”

“Monsters. There’s something in that graveyard, besides the dead. Something evil.”

Something other than a ghost? Evil how?”

“I don’t know! It just is. I was exploring there once and this thing attacked me. I barely escaped with my life. It was massive, with dozens of eyes all over it’s body. It can shape itself into any form it wants. I mean any form. Watch out for it.”

What does it want? Does it want to kill everyone in the village?”

“I don’t know, but whatever it wants, I don’t think it’s going to be good. I’ve seen a few of its underlings. They’re horrible. It makes monsters from horror movies look cute and cuddly.”

What kind of underlings?”

“The first one I saw looked like a black slime with tiny legs that hopped around on its body. It rose out of the ground and jumped at me. Doesn’t sound too bad, but it was about the size of a car and covered with pulsating yellow eyes. Another time I saw one that was just an eye. One huge, solid black eye that floated above the ground. It rose out of a hole in the ground, but the hole filled in with dirt after the eye emerged. I don’t know how big the whole creature was, because all I saw was the eye. I don’t even want to know what I missed out seeing as I couldn’t even look at it for very long before it made me feel sick. It wasn’t just an eye either, I don’t know how to explain it, but I felt like it was intelligent. It was aware of me, and aware of everything around me. I couldn’t look at it for long before I felt like it was going to plunge into my head and take over my mind. I don’t know how I resisted, but I didn’t stare at it for more than a few seconds.”

“That’s pretty scary.

What else have you seen?”

Have you ever heard of the Wendigo?”

“Can’t say that I have.”

“It’s sort of like a giant, with gangly long limbs that has a head full of long fingers rather than hair. It has mad glowing eyes and is the color of fresh blood, which it seems to almost be made out of. It stumbles around making this strange noise that sounds like someone is dragging their fingers on a blackboard, and it leaves footprints that are only holes in the ground.

The worst thing about all this is that I only know about it from a story. I never actually saw one myself.”

You don’t say anything in response. You just listen intently

“But, that’s nothing compared to what we have to worry about.”

What’s that?”

“The Rake.”

The rake?”


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Care to elaborate?”

“No. I don’t want to talk about it. I get upset whenever I do.”

“It must be bad.”

“Trust me, it is. I’d rather talk about the Wendigo.”

“I think I’ll just ask Alice about it when I get to the village. She’s probably seen it since she lives in the forest and all. Thanks for the info…I think.

It’ll certainly help.” You say.

“It won’t do you much good since you won’t be around long enough to kill it. Well, I guess if you’re lucky, you won’t be.”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence.”


“Hey it’s alright. I guess I get it. You want to live too, and the monster is scary after all.” You laugh, trying to lighten the mood a bit.

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“Well I’d better leave before it gets dark outside. Thanks for the chat and all the info on the creatures around here. Sorry I snapped at you.”

“Like I said, it’s alright. I know how scary the Rake is.”

“Well goodbye then, and good luck with your wife.” You say as you open the door. You turn back around to speak to Elizabeth one more time.

“I meant what I said though. You and Morri seem like great people and if I was even a little bit smarter or braver I’d try to steal you both from each other.”

You then leave Elizabeth’s shop with her thanking you once again for coming.

On your way out of town, you cut through the woods since it’s a shorter route and you’re hoping to maybe scare any potential prey that might be lurking in the bushes.

“Hello there!

Going to see Morri are we?”

A voice calls out just as you’re passing through a small grove of trees. You pause and see a strange little man sitting atop a large stump. He is, quite possibly, the smallest human being you’ve ever seen. His proportions are all wrong in a way that makes him look unnatural. Even his face seems bizarre, especially the smile with the over exaggerated width of his mouth and the toothy grin that looks more like a sneer. “Morri won’t be able to help you with the Rake, you know.” He says almost immediately as you turn to face him.

What? Who are you?”

You ask, startled by both his appearance and his words.

“My name is unimportant. It’s the Rake you need to worry about.” He answers creepily.

“Yeah, I got that.

But who are you exactly? Are you the Rake?”

The little man just laughs at your suspicion and reassures you that he isn’t the monster. He explains that he’s been watching you and that Morri has as well. He goes on about how Morri has been trying to help you in your quest to defeat the Rake. He then says how Morri has been somewhat of a disappointment given that he thought he taught him better, but that maybe you could fulfill his expectations where he failed.

You love Morri don’t you?”

He asks.

You’re initially taken back by the question and are even more surprised when you answer honestly. “Yes, I do. He’s a good man.”

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“Good. Then maybe you’ll do what’s needed to be done.” He says while looking at you intently.

A moment of silence passes before he speaks again. “The Rake is coming for you tonight. It murders every full moon and it will kill anyone that stands in its way, or more specifically, anyone that stands in your way. You cannot fight the Rake. All you can do is run. But in order to do that, you need to get the hell out of this town. I don’t think you’re ready to take on the Rake just yet. I’ve seen your potential and while it’s there, it’s not enough. You need to grow first. Explore your limits. You are too bookish and soft. You need to become harder. When you come back, come back for good and not just for a visit. Only then will you be able to defeat it.”

Defeat what? What the hell are you talking about?”

You ask, thoroughly confused by this strange creature.

He sighs and shakes his head as if disappointed, both at you and himself. “I suppose it’s not my place. The time isn’t right yet.

Perhaps it won’t ever be right. I’ve pushed too hard, too fast. I almost thought you’d be different, but you’re not. You’re just like the rest. Maybe you’re right. The town does need to change and maybe you’re the one that needs to lead them into doing so. But not now. You need to go.”

“But wait!

What about Morri? Is he dead? Where did the Rake come from? How did you know Morri? What happened to you?”

You ask, firing off questions in your confusion and panic.

He stares at you blankly for a moment and sighs again. “I suppose my name wouldn’t hurt you now. It’s Cal.

Cal Hopewell. I’m the man who taught Morri everything he knows about hunting.” A dark look comes over his face as he continues, seemingly angry at himself. “At least I thought I was, but he’s better than me and he’ll be able to survive the night. Now, I must ask you to leave. We’ve already wasted too much time with all my rambling.”

But what about the Rake?”

You ask again.

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Cal smirks at you. “

What about him?”

He asks as if knowing you’re going to ask something else entirely.

Are you the Rake? Are you an evil spirit? Are you the devil?”

You ask again, this time thinking back on how Morri described the night he was attacked.

“Now, now. Those are some pretty serious accusations.

Wouldn’t you be afraid if you accused someone of being those things without any proof?”

He says staring at you the entire time. “I’m not any of those things. I’m just someone who wants to keep this town safe. Now I won’t bother you anymore this evening, but we will meet again. Next time though, I won’t be quite as understanding. I’ll see you soon Jacob. Don’t worry. It’ll be soon and it’ll feel like the best night of your life. The best night of your life that will ultimately end in tragedy. Don’t go to the city and don’t go into the woods alone. And if you think someone’s trying to contact you, well more likely than not it’ll probably be me again, so tell them… Tell them their hero Cal says they’ve got the job.

And Jacob?

I was never here tonight. You’re safe. That’s all that matters.

Sources & references used in this article:

Fraternal bonding in the locker room: A profeminist analysis of talk about competition and women by TJ Curry – Sociology of sport journal, 1991 – journals.humankinetics.com

Examining the influence of athletes’ punishment experiences on decisions to cease participation in competitive hockey by A Battaglia, G Kerr, A Stirling – International Journal of Sport and …, 2020 – Taylor & Francis

Investigating a conceptual framework for trash talk: Cognitive and affective states by OB Conmy – 2005 – diginole.lib.fsu.edu

The meanings of racist and sexist trash talk for men of color: A cultural sociological approach to studying gaming culture by SM Ortiz – New Media & Society, 2019 – journals.sagepub.com

Playing while white: Privilege and power on and off the field by DJ Leonard – 2017 – books.google.com

Souled Out?: How blacks are winning and losing in sports by S Powell – 2007 – books.google.com

The boy who couldn’t stop washing: The experience and treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder by JL Rapoport – 1991 – books.google.com

Trash Talk in a Competitive Setting: Impact on Self-Efficacy, Affect, and Performance by OB Conmy – 2008 – diginole.lib.fsu.edu