Competition, even if it seems daunting, is one of the best ways you can improve as an athlete – and in many other aspects in life. It doesn’t just provide us with motivation, but also allows us to set targets and is a frame of reference of where we stand.
But what exactly is it about competition that makes us improve, and why doesn’t daily training enforce the same effects?
The shadow of a competition in the horizon is a great motivator. With the knowledge that we will be challenged with something we don’t normally do and the desire to do well, athletes find a reason to work on their weaknesses, push harder and become better at what they do.
“What drives many of us is to challenge others,” Revenge Competition, an innovative functional fitness app where opponents can challenge each other in a ladder format, states on its website.
And it’s true, rivalry has been found to increase motivation and result in improved performances.
Humans are wired to search for ways to improve, whether it’s at the workplace, daily life or in sport. This is especially true for CrossFit athletes, who show relentless grit and determination every day to get through the workouts.
Find out what competition does to our brains and how this can improve performance.
ENHANCED MENTAL TOUGHNESS
Competition has been shown to increase physical motivation and improve effort-based learning and attention. It also inspires people to do their best, not just enough.
A competition is a situation where the athlete perceives and experiences a big emotional charge; this can vary between nerves, determination, anger, elation and everything in between.
Competitions can be character-building. The setting pushes athletes to try things they hadn’t dared to before. Once a big feat becomes possible, a hurdle in the mind is knocked down. Competitions help us prove to ourselves that we are capable of our goals and targets.
“[…] Emotions influence our behaviour and actions in every aspect of our life, including sport,” says Sport Psychology at HU Berlin Prof. Darko Jekauc. An athlete has to be emotionally intelligent to perform successfully in competition, and a way to gain this emotional intelligence is through experience.
The prospect of overcoming a challenge, combined with the knowledge that the outcome will have a broader impact beyond the self – unlike finishing your daily WOD – toughens an athlete’s mind no matter their fitness level or amount of experience.
In a ladder competition setting such as Revenge Competition, an athlete has got to earn their position on the ladder; the outcome of a workout not only helps their fitness level but will determine whether they climb up, successfully defend their position or are bumped down.
Challenges increase in difficulty as athletes climb higher up the ladder, reflecting their fitness level and maintaining the competition a challenge for everyone taking part.
Challenging ourselves whilst seeing how we stack up against others can be an incredibly positive and rewarding experience. Ultimately, it doesn’t have to be about your performance, but about the process you go through to get to the competition and how it allows you to grow and find facets in yourself you might not have been aware of.
GREAT SOURCE OF EXTERNAL MOTIVATION
Once you have committed to a competition, you’re more likely to train for it. There are many reasons behind this: some people like to perform well or have a preference over difficult tasks, others feel satisfaction in improving their performance and some have a big desire to win.
Participating in competitions might bring an extrinsic form of motivation, such as a prize or the promise of some form of external reward; or an intrinsic form of motivation, such as the achievement of a personal goal.
Whichever one you feel more inclined towards, competition provides the setting to fulfill that desire and has been proven to increase internal and external motivation, as well as improve productivity and performance, and provide accountability and validation.
Revenge Competition separates tournaments by level, so the competition remains a challenge for every athlete regardless of expertise. All levels are awarded prizes, which gives everyone a fair chance at winning something special from the event’s sponsors. This also means everyone can be competitive within the same event.
With workouts mixing up gymnastics, cardio and weightlifting, every athlete has to ensure there are no gaps in their fitness if they want to hold on to their position or, even better, climb higher up the ladder.
CLOSER RELATIONSHIPS THROUGH SHARED EXPERIENCES
Competition doesn’t have to be serious to be effective. In fact, people are more likely to perform better if they compete against a rival (someone they already know), as the psychological stakes are higher, Jillene Grover Seiver, PhD, professor of psychology, concluded in a 2016 study.
Competing against people with similar skills and talents promotes a bigger boost in performance – the quality of your competitors plays a big role on the effort and motivation you ultimately put in.
Another study, from psychological scientist Gavin J. Kilduff of New York University, looking into rivalry, motivation and performance found that longstanding personal rivalries between similar contestants can boost both motivation and performance.
“How we behave in competition situations depends on our relationship and history of interaction with our opponent,” Kilduff writes in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science. “This suggests that we may be able to boost our own levels of motivation and performance by either forming rivalries or harnessing the ones we already have.”
Adding competitions into one’s training routine will not only add variety into your workouts, but also make you mentally stronger and bring you closer to the people you compete against and with.
With Revenge Competition you can compete against your friends from your local box or challenge members from all over the world. By challenging athletes within the tournaments you’ve joined, you contribute to your and your opponent’s growth and development.
Box owners can partner with Revenge Competition to introduce their own ladder tournament. With little to no need for external judges or video submissions, the work needed to see the competition happen is remarkably low and the process straight forward. The workouts are selected at random from Revenge Competition’s database.
Be part of the functional fitness app that aims to contribute to every athlete’s general fitness, growth and pleasure in the sport, regardless of their level.