Competition Psychology: How and Why To Compete

More and more people are entering the world of competition, from participating in typical popular races, to the great Marathons, passing through other sports of equal competitiveness such as in the world of professional Fitness, Bodybuilding or any activity Where you must overcome the opponent and often yourself, we should not limit ourselves to associating this concept only with high competition, every day inevitably, each of us competes for something.

competition psychology

Do we know how to compete? What is hidden behind self-improvement? Why do we compete?

Entering the competition is really a double-edged sword, on the one hand it will give you great satisfaction but on the other it will also alert you with big blocks.

What does Competing mean?

We are in front of an active verb that finds its roots in late Latin, compete comes from “compete, aspire, go to meet …, together with its adjective of “competent”, efficacy in a certain domain in human activity .

We relate competing with concepts such as effort, winning, overcoming and even with sweat and tears. Each of these definitions will bring us closer to our own reality of what competition means to us and consequently will also determine how we approach and carry it out.

There is someone to talk about competition is a prohibited term, a term that reminds you of your disabilities, your fears, even your weaknesses and prefer to turn your back on this concept, for others competition is synonymous with personal improvement , satisfaction , results that lead victoriously to always improve . The latter, without a doubt, have blurred limits in their lives, for the former the limits are strictly delimited.

Some love to move forward, they are in constant motion, for others, getting out of their comfort zone can be tremendously difficult and frustrating.

What do you compete for?

  • To achieve improvement, you always want more and better, just for the desire of constant improvement not for simple perfectionism
  • To enhance your own security, pride and self-esteem
  • To pursue new challenges that will lead to motivating challenges and to continue fighting
  • To seek wellness and feel full when you cross your own limits as a result of desired levels of endorphins and dopamine
  • To feel respected and admired in front of your social circle, parents, children, partner, friends …
  • To be your own rival

What do I do if I get nervous before a Competition?

You must stop interpreting the competition as a threat, think that you have enough resources to fight and to face the situation.

Whenever we fear something, our own nervous system reacts with an anxiety response (sensation to a greater or lesser extent than any competitor experiences at the finish line), and this sensation affects us both physically and psychologically, making us vulnerable and defenseless. It is about learning to manage it and use it to our advantage.

Feelings in front of a Competition:
  • Sweating
  • Muscle seizure
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pressure
  • Intestinal problems
  • Difficulty sleeping the night before
  • …and a long etcetera of symptoms

What is clear is that you should never spoil a long year of training, planning and sacrifice for not knowing how to effectively manage an emotion, in this case the fear of the unknown, the fear of losing, the fear of not being at height, the fear that any circumstance stands in our way towards the goal. The only solution is that you learn how to manage it efficiently today and that you can overcome the blockage and anxiety that it produces.

How do I do it?

1. Plan your Goal and visualize it

Write (literally) your own story to establish a contract with your brain. As Sie7e singer David Rodríguez says “If it fits in your mind, it fits in your world “. You need to plan your workouts beforehand using logic and being guided if necessary by a professional. You must visualize and write down your process and your situation on the day of the competition, anticipate the feelings you can experience and think of strategies to beat them. This anticipation is nothing other than the same recommendation that teachers and educators follow on a daily basis in their classrooms with young children, who find it difficult to understand and react to an avalanche of different stimuli. Everything for which you make an adequate anticipation will lead you to be prepared for their subsequent confrontation.

Logically, the result you will get when crossing the finish line is not just your question, it will depend on other people, it is beyond your possibilities and from anyone’s to determine in which position you will be, unfortunately we are not fortune tellers, therefore, we are not we can determine a goal like “win” in a realistic way, it is very good that this is our goal, but if we are trying to overcome the anxiety generated by placing ourselves on the starting line, this goal is the least realistic, the only thing that will do is to generate more responsibility and greater burden, the opposite of what we are seeking to feel at that time.

There are (few) people who use this type of determining objectives and fortunately they serve them, but most do not have the same luck, so if we want to avoid frustration and prevent higher levels of anxiety, we must establish realistic objectives , those of us who are capable of achieving without dying in the attempt, for example, it would be good to quantify them in a more general way, “ my goal is to be in the top 100, 50 or 10”Depending on your own physical condition. You must think in terms of your own performance, how far you can go and what you can do to achieve your goal. In your own script you will also write everything you can do during your participation in the competition, for example, in the case of a marathon, you can plan the speed you will carry, the hydration you will take, the technique you will use, even the clothes you will wear.

You will only have to train your mind to face the situation, apart from being what you eat you are also what you think, and you only have two options which are fully confronted with each other,

2. Concentrate on the Present moment

When you are in front of the starting line, keep full attention in the situation you are living and dedicate all your concentration, it will not be positive to start your competition with the fatigued brain and believe me that it is exhausted just like the muscles of the body do and Its consequences can really be even worse, so stay focused on the present moment you are living. If you have never read Nick Nolte’s book “The Pacific War ” this would be a good time, it would help you to understand well and internalize the situation that I am presenting to you. At this point we will set aside the result of the objective of our mind and focus on being aware of the performance and decisions that we will make throughout the competition.

The brain is not capable of attending to two activities at the same time offering the same performance, if you think about the mistakes made in your past, ” sorry for the vulgar expression ” you screw it up, if you only think about what you want to achieve you are placing yourself in your future and shit again, the result of doing this will lead you to cultivate high levels of anxiety and even to abandon the sport or activity for which you are preparing in the near future. Focus on enjoying, living and planning your present, having your goal clear but leaving it in a drawer of your brain, you can turn to it when your motivation decline or when you feel that your strength is weak but not before, he is there and you fight to satisfy him, he will not move but it is you who will have to make it happen.

3. You must learn to suffer and be willing to do it

Think that any competition requires more demands than a workout, you are going to experience completely different sensations, you are going to give it your all and for this you must prepare yourself. The typical affirmations such as ” I cannot … I am going fatally of time … what is happening to me … so I will never arrive … the judges will see that I have failed … it is surely wrong … it is quite a horror … but what the hell am I doing here … ”The result of this will be that you focus on the bad thing that you are having and possibly it will lead to bad results and to accumulate a certain resentment towards the activity or sport that you are carrying out. You are going to have hard moments, they are going to be part of your success, value them, prepare for them and face them.

You must reinforce yourself mentally to face all these sensations intelligently, really competing is more than constantly telling yourself that if you can, it is finding your best version, competing at the best level and being able to bear really strong physical and psychological loads, such as pain and suffering or negative feelings to which sooner or later you will say good morning.

The path to success begins with…

  1. Pursue your own improvement
  2. Don’t whip yourself if something goes wrong
  3. Control your anxiety and activation levels
  4. Enjoy the new sensations and use them to grow
  5. Work on your confidence and your own safety


Like this article? Read how One Hour of Exercise A Week Could Prevent Depression for the psychological effects of fitness.