Five Ways to Motivate Yourself Against Weak Competition

One of the most difficult challenges in sports is motivating yourself to play your best against weak competition. When playing against a weak opponent, many athletes play down to the level of their competition. This is mainly because they lack motivation for these games. Many athletes are simply bored when playing against a very weak opponent. Their opponent offers no challenge or excitement, therefore they often just go through the motions and give the minimal amount of effort needed to win. They just want to get the game over with and move onto their next opponent. All of this, of course, leads to poor performance. It can even cause you to lose to a weaker opponent. This is why every coach needs to try especially hard to motivate their team when playing against weaker competition. Here are five ways to motivate yourself against weaker competition:

1. Don't be satisfied with just winning. Aim to play your best and dominate! When playing against a weak opponent, you shouldn't be satisfied with just winning. You need to hold yourself to higher standards. For one, you should always strive to do your best in order to improve. If you only give minimal effort, you won't improve as much as you would by giving your best effort. Giving minimal effort will come back to bite you once you start playing stronger opponents. If you don't give your best effort against weaker opponents, you won't have the mental toughness to give your best effort against stronger opponents. To help give you motivation to play your best against weak opponents, you need to strive to dominate. It's not enough to simply win. You're supposed to win by a large margin. If you barely win, you won't really impress anyone. If you want to earn more respect among voters and your opponents, you need to win big against weak competition. So if your goal is to move up the ranking and compete for a championship, you need to strive to dominate against weak competition. You need to use your highest goals as motivation against weak competition. Remind yourself that in order to reach your highest goals, you need to go through the process, not around it. If you want to win a championship, then you need to focus on playing one game at a time! You need to also remember that dominating a weaker opponent can be just as challenging as defeating a stronger opponent. Both of these challenges require giving your absolute best effort. This brings me to the second way to motivate yourself against weak competition.

2. Respect your opponent and brace for a challenge. When playing against weak competition, it's very important to prevent overconfidence, which can lead to complacency. To help motivate yourself, you need to respect your opponent and brace for a challenge. Don't expect your opponent to just roll over and hand you the win. They will fight their hardest, and their mental toughness could quite easily trump your talent if you don't take them serious. If you know this beforehand, you'll more likely give your best effort during the game.

3. Find a way to make the game personal. Like I said above, one reason why athletes lack motivation against weak competition is because they're bored. The game doesn't mean much to them. This is why it's so important to proactively attach meaning to games and make them personal. This isn't always easy. Sometimes you have to dig deep and find ways to add emotion to games. 

4. Challenge yourself to make improvements during the game. This is similar to number one, where you challenge yourself to improve by playing your best. But here, I'm talking about challenging yourself to improve in more specific ways. If you know that you'll most likely win against a very weak opponent, then you can afford to take the risks of working on your weaknesses and experimenting with new techniques and tactics during the game. If you do this, you can be more satisfied with yourself after the game, knowing that you not only won, but you also improved, which will help get you closer to your highest goals.

5. Play for the love of the game. In my opinion, reasons 1-4 shouldn't really matter that much. A true competitor always plays for the love of the game. They shouldn't need extrinsic reasons to play their best against weaker competition. They're so intrinsically motivated and have such a deep love for the game, that they play hard against weak competition anyways. They never get bored and think ahead to their next opponent. They love the process, so they enjoy the moment and stay focused throughout the entire game. However, just because you love the game doesn't mean you can't also play for other reasons as well. You can play for the love of the game and have extrinsic motivations at the same time. In fact, in order to give your absolute best effort, you need all the motivation you can get. This is why I recommend using all five of these strategies to motivate yourself against weak competition.

The next time you're about to face a weak opponent and your team looks unmotivated, use these five strategies to motivate your team to give their best effort! Aim to dominate! Brace for a challenge! Make the game personal! Challenge yourself to improve! And play for the love of the game!