How to avoid being provoked on the pitch.

When you're a striker, provocation is something you have to deal with in pretty much every game.

provocation football

Among the various methods to throw off an offensive player or provoke them, the most common ones include: insults, trash-talking, ("you suck", "you're going to miss", "you're rubbish", "you're slow", etc.), or physical methods, with the aim of showing who's boss over the first few plays or in the first duel.

You've also got breathing down their neck, and grabbing their shirt which can be annoying, a little nudge with the elbow, stepping on the player's foot and stopping them jumping just as they try to do a header.You can pinch, or even spit...Sensitive people should look away now.

provocation on the pitch

See it from the attacker's point of view

If you're more of an offensive player, you know that one little thing you love doing, like that painful nudge, or stepping on that foot, which drives your opponents mad? If that sounds like you, then you've certainly met the annoying and aggressive defender who tries to throw you off for the whole 90 minutes of the game and beyond. The one who taps your ankles, gives you that little shove with their elbow before leaving, drives their shoulder into you during duels, pulls on your shirt and sometimes insults you. I'm sure that sometimes, in the heat of the moment, you feel more like a karateka than a football player.

But we've all heard that one sentence that my coaches have repeated to me 100 times or more (I hog the ball, I love doing stepovers and it sometimes really annoys opponents): “ZOHRAAAAAA, the answer is out on the pitch!” That's all well and good but it's easier to say than to do. That's not to say they're wrong. And my way of avoiding reacting to hits, was to call the referee over and ask them to put an end to the situation. Because we don't all wear the same shirt but...  you know the rest!

 

Don't forget, respect is THE most important thing out on the pitch. I tell myself that ignoring them is the best response to insults (something that is often said but is still very true).

Want another hackneyed old saying? What doesn't kill me makes me stronger (it's cliché, I know), but it's true, if you don't rise to the provocation and focus your energy on the game and the pitch it's almost certain that the result of the match will be favourable with a decisive pass and/or a goal!

The defender's response

It's well known that in football there's always a big battle of wills between attacker and defender.

Why? Because the attacker always has a sense of superiority over the defender. Which explains why some people claim that we defenders are aggressive or "angry"!

They can't stand you taking the ball from them. For them, there was always some foul, or the defender was just lucky, etc. But we take the ball from them properly.

Despite everything, attackers are faster and more technical than defenders, so sometimes you need to be clever to overcome them and make your game easier.

How you ask?

> When an attacker is faster than you, a little elbowing on their arm as they start to move forward can make a difference.

> There's also first contact, which should be hard and aggressive to show an attacker that the game is not going to be easy for them.

> When an attacker talks a lot, the best response is to say nothing, to show complete indifference and show them who's boss in the first duels.

> Another tip you can try where all other attempts have failed, there's always the option of a bit of fun trash-talking like: "You suck, you're not going anywhere, you're not going to win a duel, etc.", and so on.

 

Despite this, it's always fun to see a good duel between an attacker and an aggressive defender, where it all finishes with a handshake at the end and a "well played", followed by the typical post-match drink!

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