How Competitive are YOU?
Do you think having a competitive mindset is a good thing? It’s all relative, yes! Too much of anything is too much. But, today we are focusing on having a healthy competitive mindset. You need it when attempting to live a healthy and fit lifestyle.
Watching My Child Play Baseball…
I was watching my 14 year old play in a baseball tournament this past weekend. As we struggled watching him step up to the plate only to strike out over and over after countless hours of work…it hit me. He doesn’t have a competitive mindset, and that might be my fault.
For Years …
I was always into sports, but I was never really that competitive. I did what I could do to the best of my abilities, but when it came down to working REALLY hard to achieve an athletic goal, I really didn’t ever have to do that. In high school, we were basically told to choose ONE sport and stick with it. At the time I was a decent basketball player and a decent cheerleader. Nothing special, just a 4’11” point guard that could run pretty fast and a cheerleader that just happened to know how to flip. When I was told to choose, I chose cheerleading. With that, I never really developed a competitive mindset.
Yes, we had tryouts every year, but like I said, I was decent and could flip, so that alone gave me an advantage. It wasn’t until I was older and decided to become a fitness professional that I learned what it really felt like to have a competitive mindset.
I was enrolled in a certification program coupled with Powder Blue Fitness. The first day I walked in was daunting being surrounded by some of the most fit people I had ever seen. Instantly, I felt like I was in the wrong place and quickly started thinking of the many reasons I could give to get out of it. Then the certification coach said ONE THING that changed everything for me.
“One of you will receive a Gold Certification, only one is given out every term.” Ya’ll, I promise something ignited inside of me and I was DETERMINED to get that Gold Cert. I wanted to prove it to myself and everyone else in there. THAT was the first time I truly felt a competitive mindset at work.
Can It Be Taught?
According to Big Life Journal…it can!
5 Ways to Foster a Healthy Competitive Mindset in Young Athletes
- By Rebecca Louick
Sports provide kids with many opportunities for growth and mastery. But all too often, competitive events are approached with a FIXED mindset. When kids want to quit after a loss, make excuses rather than accepting setbacks, or even cheat in order to win, they’re signaling the need for a new perspective.
In extreme cases, they may even become anxious, avoiding sports or competition altogether.
Fortunately, there’s another way of approaching athletic competition. With a healthy competitive mindset, kids relate success to working hard rather than innate talent. They see accomplishment in even small gains and seek inspiration from their competitors. Kids with this mindset achieve by consistently doing their BEST.
Connect Winning with Effort
Kids often think of winning as the result of talent or luck. To cultivate a healthy competitive mindset, explain that positive outcomes are the result of lots of EFFORT. Discuss how the best players are the ones who practice the most and work the hardest.
“Competition helps kids learn that it is not always the best or the brightest who are successful, but rather those that work hard and stick with it.”
– Timothy Gunn, Psychologist
Not Everyone Gets a Trophy
To help your kids grasp this concept, have them do some research about their sports role models. They will learn how much work and effort went into each athlete’s success.
As supportive parents and coaches, it’s tempting to praise a young athlete’s effort alone. For example, you might be tempted to say “You trained so hard!” But a key aspect of a growth-centered competitive mindset is the outcome.
Psychologist Carol Dweck explains that the mindset associated with success is actually not the “…self-esteem movement of blanketing everyone with praise, whether deserved or not” (The Atlantic Interview 2016).
Praising effort without results is known as a false growth mindset, and can actually be harmful. Kids know when they truly worked hard and performed well, and us saying otherwise can be confusing or even insincere.
Instead, help kids notice what went WELL in each game or practice, and note how effort created even their smallest gains. For example, you can say, “You trained very hard and now you’re able to do this move!”
Wins deserve celebration and rewards, of course, but keep them connected to the persistence of your child and his or her team!
Early on, explain that accomplishment does not always mean winning. Set a performance-based rather than an outcome-based goal. Catching a ball, working hard during practice, or learning from an experience can all be defined as success.
Since the outcome of a game is usually beyond our control, what we can focus on is the EFFORT we put forth.
Ask kids, “What do you hope to learn from this?” or “What is your goal for yourself?” to develop intentions beyond simply winning the game.
According to psychologist Carol Dweck, athletes with a growth mindset see “success in learning and improving, not just winning” (2008, p. 107). So broaden the definition of accomplishment.
Bouncing back after a loss can also be viewed as an achievement. Failure is not only helpful in building resilience but necessary!
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
– Michael Jordan, basketball player
Learn From the Competition
It’s natural for kids to compare themselves and their performance to others. In fact, it’s part of how kids figure out who they are. But it becomes unhealthy when they don’t feel they measure up or are constantly looking over their shoulders.
Instead, kids can learn to be inspired by their competitors. Have kids ask themselves, “What are they teaching me?” or “What are they doing that I’d like to learn?” Also, note the EFFORT that led to a competitor’s success: “I bet he practiced so much to get that good. What do you think?”
“When you read about an athlete or team that wins over and over and over, remind yourself, ‘More than ability, they have character.‘”
– John Wooden, legendary basketball coach
You are Your Best Competitor
Kids can also learn to compete against their own past performance. Gunn says, “Part of developing healthy competition is that children learn their most important competitor is their self.”
Rather than focusing on others, a child’s success could be a quicker time than he had last week or persevering through a challenge he couldn’t before. Self-competition can make tolerating both losing and winning a bit easier, too.
Finally, teach kids that comparisons are relative. Psychologist Eileen Kennedy-Moore suggests that we start by discussing physical size: Ask your child, “Are you big or little?” The answer: she is larger than a baby and smaller than a teenager but the right size for doing her favorite things.
Next, ask “Is your bedroom big or little?” It’s bigger than a closet but smaller than a house, and the ideal size for holding her clothes and toys.
Competitive abilities can be viewed in the same way: “You are just right to do your best at whatever you try. You have everything you need right at this moment.
Create a Healthy Team Culture
Coach John Lawton defines culture as “how it feels to be part of a team.” A healthy team culture is one that values the lessons learned from mistakes, with time to reflect on performances.
When coaches openly discuss challenges and create environments where mistakes are encouraged, kids have the opportunity to learn and move past them. Making regular time for reflection on both wins and losses is also key.
Ask kids, “What we can learn from our loss?” or “What did we do well?”
Good sportsmanship is a necessary component of a healthy team culture. Humbly accepting wins and graciously accepting losses are learned behaviors, ones that kids don’t automatically know.
Teach kids to shake hands with referees and the opposing team as simple ways to demonstrate being a good sport. As parents, model good behavior (don’t argue with an official or badmouth a call).
Brainstorm with kids about what kind of team they’d like to build. What are the specific ways they can contribute to their vision? Perhaps complimenting teammates or helping create a list of good sportsmanship rules?
Or maybe your child wants to organize an after-game ritual like going for ice cream or doing a silly dance. Whatever their ideas, creating a positive team feeling is essential.
Practice at Home
A simple way to practice a healthy competitive mindset is through family games. Prior to playing, consider games or activities that kids can potentially win, and keep it fair.
Application to Adulthood
As I read through the above article, I actually took a lot to heart and plan to handle myself and my son a little differently. I’ve ALWAYS been the praise person in our family. Although praising our children IS a big deal, I also like the idea of being real and helping them figure out ways to do better, stretch themselves further and work harder. I want to gain from that for myself as well.
As I remembered the first time I felt extremely competitive, I longed for that feeling again. I actually DID end up with the Gold Certification and it was as if nothing was going to stop me from attaining it. I WANT that feeling for my children as much as I want it for myself again.
It starts with a lot of self-discipline. If you are reading this, you are either in the middle of or attempting to reach a fit and fab lifestyle. Having a competitive mindset starts with being disciplined enough to have your blood work done, consult with the doc and get a plan. Then, once you get a plan, STICK with it.
It’s little things like weights on a regular basis when taking anything made to enhance your muscles and strength. You can’t sit around doing nothing when on Oxandrolone (as stated in yesterday’s blog). You HAVE to put your muscles to work. If you’re taking a female weight loss stack, you can’t just eat donuts every morning and expect BIG results. That’s NOT having a competitive mindset. You want to be able to drive right past the Krispy Kreme and mock it as you do. Knowing that YOU are in control. Did you know that weight loss and physical fitness has been linked to having more control in every other aspect of your life? I’m IN!
Tip of the Day
In honor of Memorial Day, I simply want you all to look around for a minute and feel THANKFUL for even the smallest of things in your life. Today, so many reflect back on a lost loved one that they would give anything to have back. Don’t take the people in your life for granted, it’s easy to do. Cheers to the Brave ones whom have gone before us!!