The Value of Competition

Are you one of those people who love to play a sport or a game to see who wins?  Are you driven by the idea of testing yourself against others to see who is best?  Does winning matter “a lot” to you? 

If so, then I would describe you as a competitive person.  Some people find great motivation in competing, while others shy away from it and avoid it whenever possible.  I would suggest to you that if you are one of those people who avoid competition, you might wish to reconsider, and here’s why.

The act of competing will force you our of your comfort zone, will provide the opportunity for improving your performance, and will motivate you to put forth greater effort that can result in higher level of performance.  Here are some more reasons to learn to love competition:

•  Competition drives us to learn at a faster rate and perform at a higher level. When the event is coming up, we work harder and faster. When we are playing a game, we push a little harder. In doing so we often surprise ourselves with what we are capable of accomplishing.

•  Competition teaches us to put forth our best effort. Keeping score gives us extra motivation to do our best. We pursue excellence when we compete.

•  Competition teaches us to manage our nerves. When something is out of our comfort zone or pushes us to perform, we normally feel ‘butterflies’.  Competition brings those butterflies out, so we can work on managing them. This is an important trait that we can use when taking exams, interviewing for jobs and giving presentations.

•  Competition teaches us to take risks. Once we realize that competition is not a terrifying thing, we can take risks. We can develop our confidence to do things that are hard or uncomfortable.

•  Competition teaches us to cope when things do not go our way. Sometimes you work hard and you still lose. Sometimes you win but still didn’t perform as you wanted to. We learn resilience and grit in these moments. Resilience and grit are two traits that most certainly are essential to everyone’s success.

•   Competition helps us with goal setting. While setting goals and making a plan to reach them can be done outside of competition, competition helps provide deadlines and progress checks on our goals.

•  Competition helps us to learn to win and lose gracefully. Nobody likes a boastful person, and nobody likes are pouter. Competition gives us the opportunities to cope with feelings of pride and disappointment and to learn to process them in healthy ways.

•  Competition can build self-esteem. Self-esteem cannot be handed to kids; they have to earn it. When you develop a talent and work hard for a result, it feels great. When you fail and learn that can bounce back, you feel more confident in yourself because you understand that you have resilience.

•  Competition teaches commitment. There is a saying that goes, “Successful people do the things that unsuccessful people don’t want to do. That is why they are successful.” Building the habit of commitment is a wonderful by-product of being involved in competition.

•  Competition causes kids to perform better in school. Research shows that high school students who play competitive sport are less likely to quit other activies. Furthermore, participation in sports also has been associated with completing more years of education and consistently higher grades in school. Not surprising that the discipline and goal setting that is learned in competitive sports helps in school.

At Kaizen Karate, we have intermural karate tournaments twice a year.  These tournaments are a great way for all students to get all the benefits of competition in a safe and fun environment.  We also encourage our advanced belt students to also compete at external tournaments, where they can see just how good they are relative to their peers from other karate schools.  I encourage everyone who is eligible and able to compete to do so.  You will be a better martial artist and even more important, possible a better human being for it.  Good luck!

-Coach David-