The Importance of Exposure to Competition

As an athlete, it is very important to be exposed to your competition. What I mean is that it helps to know who your competition is, how good they are, how they play, and how they train. This is especially important for athletes who grow up in small towns. Many small town athletes are not aware of the level of competition outside their town, county, or state. As a result, successful athletes in small towns may become overconfident and complacent. They may think that just because they're the best in their town, they can compete with anyone in the nation. However, they may not know much about their wider competition. They may not realize how many athletes they are truly competing against. Also, they may not know just how athletic, talented, and hardworking their competition truly is. If they are not exposed to this level of competition, then they may become satisfied with their level of talent and training. If they don't know that they need to train harder and smarter, then they probably won't have the motivation to do so. 

So as a parent or coach, you can help your kids/players by exposing them to tougher competition at an early age. When kids are more aware of their competition, they are able to develop more realistic expectations. Since they know their competition isn't just the kids in their own town, they remain humble no matter how much they dominate their local competition. They know that they still need to work hard if they want to compete with the best kids in the nation/world. However, being exposed to your wider competition isn't just about motivation. It's also about learning what skills you need to learn and what training methods you need to adopt to gain these skills. By studying your wider competition, you can learn to play and train smarter.

While exposure to competition is important, it can sometimes come with negative side effects. For some athletes, being exposed to tougher competition can harm their self-confidence. Once they discover that they are not as good as they thought they were, they may become discouraged. They may start to believe they're not good enough to reach their dreams. Not only can this decrease their motivation to train, but it can also hurt their performance in games.

As you can see, to benefit the most out of exposure to competition, you need to go about it carefully. When exposing your kids to tougher competition, make sure they learn the right lessons. The goal of exposing your kids to tougher competition is to increase their motivation, humility, and knowledge, while maintaining their self-confidence. To do this, you can emphasize the fact that your kids have succeeded against tough competition in the past, and they can continue to do so if they keep working hard. It also helps to gradually expose your kids to tougher competition. You don't have to throw your kids to the wolves right away. Sending your kids to the toughest camps or tournaments may only hurt their confidence. It is best to be around competition that is challenging, but not too challenging. Once your kids start excelling at one level of competition, you can raise the bar. By taking this gradual approach, your kids are more likely to reach their ultimate goals.

Summary: to succeed as an athlete, you need to be both humble and confident. The best way to find this balance is to acknowledge your competition while maintaining a positive attitude.