Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Stand Up for Yourself in Pickup Games

   When playing pickup, you will face a few players who view playing sports from a very simple perspective: Winners win—Losers lose. To these players, winning is everything. Their self-esteem is directly tied to achieving that goal. These players will use gamesmanship, mental warfare, and other questionable tactics to try and secure victory. They may bend the rules or make “bad calls” to gain advantage.

For instance, in a game of pickup basketball, you might cleanly block our opponent’s shot. But he or she counters your good defensive play by saying that you committed a foul. Likewise, when you steal the ball, this type of player will call “foul”—even though there was little or no body contact. You can also expect this opponent to claim that “they never touched the ball” in a situation where they slightly deflect the ball out-of-bounds.

Though everyone makes the occasional bad call (and sometimes gets caught defending it), you need to watch for the opponent who regularly does so. Against these players you need to decide how to handle their behavior.

What You Should Do

If you’re a beginner or new to a group, you may want to take it slow at first. Your opponent may have special standing within the group and you may be viewed as an outsider. In these situations, consider questioning the call once. Do so without emotion. Force your opponent to make a statement defending his or her call. This puts your opponent on notice that you will not passively accept every bad call.

Even when you’re familiar with other players, you may decide it’s simply not worth the emotional effort to argue a call. You may not want to push the issue beyond a couple of comments.

But understand that there’s a risk to not challenging others who repeatedly manipulate the situation to their advantage. You lose respect.

Your teammates expect you to stand up for yourself and your calls. They expect you to speak up when you’re fouled. When you don’t, you give your opponent and his or her team an advantage. Since your teammates want to win, you will lose their respect should you continually back down.

You also lose respect from your opponent. Against players who often make self-serving bad calls, you must meet them head-on. Otherwise, you’ll keep getting run over. Much like confronting a bully, you need to stand your ground. It’s not fun arguing. It ruins the flow of the game. But once your opponent realizes you’re not going to easily give in, his or her behavior often changes (at least for that game). Your battle with your opponent returns to one of pure competition.

Do you have any suggestions on how to handle these types of situations?

Copyright © 2012 Jeffrey S. Rhoads. All Rights Reserved

If you enjoyed this article, you may like my book:
The Joy of Youth Sports: Creating the best youth sports experience for your child (Amazon $8.95)

(Kindle Edition $2.99)

Copyright 2009-2012 Jeffrey S. Rhoads; All Rights Reserved


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