Use Competition as Motivation to Improve Your Game
What does it mean to be competitive? Athletes often define the word competitive as the “will to win”. To beat your opponent, you need to have the will to win.
Another meaning of the word competitive is “to strive.” In other words, being competitive is the strong desire to put in the effort to become the best athlete you can be.
Being competitive helps you push yourself and your teammates to greater heights.
Let’s look at two scenarios: In these scenarios, you will notice some athletes are threatened by friendly competition instead of becoming motivated to improve their game.
First scenario: You play third base on your college softball team. Your coach recruited a top high school player. You felt you were being replaced. You thought, “I had an off year last season and now I’m going to lose my starting role on the team.”
Instead of using the situation as motivation, you felt threatened by a new player challenging you for your starting position and lost your confidence. You abandoned your competitive mindset and lost your edge. Ironically, it was your competitive mindset that helped you break into the starting lineup in the first place.
Second scenario: You are the starting goalie for your high school soccer team. It’s your senior year, and you are trying to earn a college athletic scholarship. You worked hard to put yourself in position to eventually play collegiate soccer. During tryouts, a freshman goalie stood out among the freshman class.
They were so talented that they made the varsity squad. Your coach was so impressed by their skills that they started the first two preseason games. You started to question your own abilities, “Maybe I’m not good enough to play in college.” You felt threatened by how skilled the freshman goalie was, instead of being motivated to raise your game to another level.
To raise your game to the next level, you should practice with a competitive mindset. Friendly competition amongst teammates helps you improve your skills. In practice, find ways to compete. Friendly competition fuels motivation.
In the 2021 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings selected quarterback Kellon Mond in the third round despite investing a lot on their current starter, Kirk Cousins. Robert Griffin III, a former teammate of Cousins, commented on how the situation may unfold.
GRIFFIN: “Yeah, I can tell you that No. 8 [Cousins] in Minnesota is not real happy right now. Because Kellon Mond represents exactly what he doesn’t do well. Kellon Mond is the big, physical quarterback. He can run it, throw it all over the field, and I don’t think that’s something that No. 8 is able to do.”
Whether Griffin’s assessment is on target, it does present a challenge for Cousins. Cousins can see the draft pick as a sign he is heading out the door or he can look for ways to out-compete, out-work and out-prepare his new teammate and raise the level of his play even higher.
When you strive to be your best, you never actually lose.
Embrace Healthy Competition:
The idea is to “Never back down, never concede.” This means you don’t panic when someone challenges you for your position. You embrace the challenge as a way to help you compete and improve your game.
Remember to embrace competition from teammates and know that if you both compete and challenge each other, you will both grow as athletes.
Related Articles on Mental Game:
- Focus on What You Can Control in Sports
- What Separates Elite Athletes from the Rest?
- How to Stay Composed When You Make Mistakes
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