We are living in an era of intense competition: whether it is
in education, sports, business, corporate affairs or any other area of common
interest in life.

According to J.Coakley [1994], a sports psychologist: Competition is a social process that occurs
when rewards are given to people on the basis of performance compared to the
performances of others participating in the same event.

It is a universal truth that – in order to excel in
competition an individual or a team has to prepare and execute what is learnt –
in a calm, relaxed, positive and optimistic frame of mind. Coach’s prophesise to
the idea that athletes must give 100% while in competition and let the better
player/team win and not about things that are not in one’s control – like the
strength of the opponent, his rating, how well he is prepared and executes on a
given day.

What is in the locus of
of any competitor is the way he reaches inside and measures against
– what philanthropist and businessman Warren
calls `his own internal yardstick.  Whether you lived up to your best or fell
short on your personal yardstick.

You can’t blame the venue, the weather, the coach, the
referee or the crowd for your poor performance. It’s always you. You are responsible for your success and
downfall: If you win it’s because of you and if you don’t do so it’s also
because of you. Your competitor is not on the other side of the court it’s the person
you see in the mirror every day and that’s

In any competition, whatever its magnitude- the challenge is
not the competition or the opponent it’s within the challenger at all time. As Edmund
Hillary rightly said- It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.

What stops us from being the best is our own fragilities- our
insecurities, our anxieties, our lack of confidence or too much of it, our
inability to concentrate or maintain the ideal mental balance while in
competition. This is what prompted Bobby Knight– the famous basketball
coach to say– Your biggest opponent isn’t the other guy: its human nature. 

Every day you wake up, strive to do better than what you did
yesterday: pushing for those little accomplishments that will keep motivating
you for bigger deeds.

The advantages of
being your own competitor

1 You will know your strengths and weaknesses.

2. You will develop self-awareness and begin to take
necessary action.

3 Pushing your limits will encourage and motivate you

4 You will raise the bar and improve your overall standards.

5 You will not be intimidated by your opponents or be
bothered by outcomes.

I was talking to a swimmer from India who trained years
before in the same camp [in USA] as the legendary swimmer Michael Phelps did.
In one of the camp meets he was lined up a few places to where Phelps was
standing and he felt overwhelmed by the presence of the great swimmer- conscious
of his presence all the time. When I asked him what would he do if happened to
be competing with Michael Phelps again: he said- “ I will swim my race he will swim his. His record is his record however
great it might be, my duty is to compete against myself and improve my timings:
that’s all I can do.’’ 

So, my dear athletes, the next time you are in the pool or on
a track- Swim your own race, focus on your lane and your track record and how
you can better your best. Who knows- One day it may be good enough to be a
world record.    


M N VISHWANATH, Mental conditioning coach for sports persons

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