The Importance Of Competition

The soccer team my son plays for is off to the USA Cup next month. The team he plays on has a great coach and performs at an excellent standard and they do well when they play in tournaments. My son is a goalkeeper, and *proud dad alert* I think he is pretty good. As a Freshman he only let in 3 goals last season for his High School team playing 12 games. The team conceded 11 with goalie duties being switched at half-time. Compared to his peers, even those who are older, he more than holds his own. *end proud dad alert*

The proud dad moment wasn’t just about me talking about my son, there is a purpose. The reality is that it is sometimes hard to know exactly how good we are. The club team will have two tournaments this year and because the weather here is terrible they have only been practicing on grass in the last 2 or 3 weeks. Our High School offers less competition as it is much bigger than any other school for maybe 150 miles, so to be honest there isn’t a great deal of competition to push the team to be better and their 10-0-1 season last year tells the story.

So how good is my son? Honestly? He does really well playing against the team he faces no matter who is in front of him. The reality is that his development is not going to be as strong as a player on a team playing in a competitive league or playing a couple of tournaments a month. The measure of how good he, or the team as a whole for that matter, is hard to know until they face top players and top teams on a bigger stage, such as the USA Cup. When we look back on last season’s High School results, we could celebrate the 10-1 record, but being the big fish in a small pond, it is hard to know just how well the team would do when put in the ocean.

Here are today’s three takeaways:

1 – Iron sharpens iron, and so a man sharpens another. Without constant pushing, struggle, and competition we grow dull. We practice for a purpose – to compete.

2 – A winning record doesn’t always indicate high performance.

3 – As I have said many, many times before – Perception is not reality. Results don’t tell the whole story, they are simply one measure to show the level of performance.

The featured image today looks like one of those crazy NASA pictures of a far away universe. It isn’t. It’s a nerve cell. If we keep our focus only on the thing we can see, we lose our ability to view a bigger picture. If we use our results against others as the measure of our performance, we could easily think we are better than we are. The phrase “Winning isn’t everything” is just as important to remember for those who win as it is for those who lose.

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Picture Credit: Torsten Wittmann, PhD. UCSF Biomedical Sciences.

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