The Benefits of Competition
Quickly after learning how to walk, I learned to run and quickly after that I learned how to kick, throw and jump. From then onwards sport has played a defining role in my life, allowing me to travel the world and create lifelong friendships. Being part of teams for 20 years that have competed on varying levels, both local and national, has led me to believe in a great number of benefits of competition.
The most obvious benefit of sporting competition is movement and activity on physical and mental health. Improved brain health, weight loss, reduced risk of disease, and strengthen bones and muscles, alongside a boost in self-esteem and sleep quality. The list goes on and on. A competitive environment pushes an athlete to work harder in both training and matches. This extra effort leads to improved fitness levels beyond those in a non-competitive environment. If you are interested in some scientific studies on this subject I will link them below.
When an athlete competes they have 3 outcomes, win, lose or draw.
Learning to win is crucial for anyone looking to take their game to the next level, strategising, analysing, spotting weaknesses in an opponent and playing to one’s strengths. Mastery of these traits will help athletes fend off the competition in whatever they do, be it in sport, personal life or in business. But in a competition you don’t always win, you draw or lose.
Learning to lose is something that doesn’t come easy but if an athlete can learn something about why they lost and move on from it then they can benefit. Dealing with hardship, things not going according to plan and being able to leave negativity behind are important skills for all humans, athlete or not. And competition gives an athlete a space to learn these lessons. After all, an athlete must learn from the past and look to the future if they are to play their best.
Competing teaches athletes to work in a team to achieve a common goal. To do so effectively one must communicate successfully with teammates. Good communication, both verbal and non-verbal, is a learned skill that promotes cohesion and commonality between a group of athletes. Take tennis, for example, Jamie Murray and Rajeev Ram signal behind their back to their partner before serving to coordinate where the server will serve and the volleyer will move. This allows them to play repeatable patterns and be on the same page at every point.
Off the court, pitch or whatever the playground is, competition is a means to making friends. It might be over a post-match pint or a pre-match team talk but when a group of athletes compete together they grow a bond together. Psychologists call it social glue, it is where people’s feeling of social connection is strengthened through a shared experience. I will add a link to a study about social glue below.
Another benefit of competition is the development of a passion. If an athlete competes, they want to win. If they want to win, they want to improve. If they want to improve, they dedicate themselves to something. This is developing a passion. And there are countless benefits of having a passion, possibly the most important is it creates a purpose. It makes one want to get up and get better.
Competition fosters all of the above benefits, so if you want some more competition, think about downloading the Sportch app and competing in your local area. If you want an increased level of competition with cash prizes then join our Prize Club.