Compete (from the Latin): com-“together” + petere “aim at, seek”
Translation: Competition is striving for something with others.
How many athletes would play sports if all they ever got to do was practice by themselves? Day after day, after day, after day. Not many. The joy of playing any sport or game is found in the testing of our limits and achieving things we did not know we could do. Thus, the opportunity to play with someone else, to compete, is an essential part of what draws us to sport. Playing with others reveals new things about ourselves and provides opportunities not available when we are alone. So why do we see so much negativity between competitors?
When anyone else in life helps us accomplish something we could not have done alone, we are grateful for them…and often express our gratitude and thankfulness. How can we as coaches begin to help our athletes see their competition in this light? Not only do we owe gratitude to our competitors for helping us achieve things we could not achieve by ourselves, the better our competitor, the more grateful we should be!
As you go into your next competition, help your team to recognize and appreciate the value of the team they are competing with. And if your competition is better than you, proudly take on the opportunity to learn and grow that they are providing you. This mindset shift from hostility to gratitude will free up emotional capacity as well and help your team to play even better.
Compete. And be grateful.