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How To Handle Opponents' Unsportsmanlike Behavior

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This video is brought to you by Vivo Girls Sports -- a digital media property and global online community for active girls and young women. Vivo Girls Sports developed an online video library from a network of highly respected sports experts to answer important questions from the community. Their mission is to keep girls healthy and playing sports.

One of these experts is Tina Syer (@tinaPCA), the Chief Impact Officer at Positive Coaching Alliance. Syer played Division I field hockey at Stanford University, where she graduated with honors and was named an Academic All-America. Her coaching experience includes seasons at the high school, college and Olympic Development levels.

Dealing with a disrespectful, unsportsmanlike opponent can be difficult and distracting. In this short video, Syer says the best approach, if feasible, is to ignore the opponents' behavior. Often, the disrespect is meant to distract you from the action and interfere with your best effort. Rather than giving into the opponent's tactics, stay focused on the play. This likely will convince them to stop, may even frustrate them to the point where they are the ones losing focus and having their performance deteriorate.

If ignoring the opponent is not practical, especially due to safety concerns, it is best to speak with your captain or coach. Let these team leaders talk to the officials to make sure they are monitoring opponents’ behavior. Note that neither of these approaches involves you directing comments toward a disrespectful opponent, which could aggravate the situation and further distract you from your game. Key takeaways: stay focused, ignore unsportsmanlike behavior, and alert team leaders if necessary.