Competition in sports; Motivation for Exercise & Sports


The word competence derived from the Latin “competere” means “search together and has several meanings according to the context in which it is used. You can compete with yourself overcoming your own brands, or those of other athletes, you can compete individually or in groups aggressively or naturally, suddenly or progressively. Whether in one case or another, there is an innate impulse to overcome in the competition.

The recognition in the competition may well be individual as in the case of self-recognition or group and will depend among other factors on the nature of the specific sport. As long as the competition is driven by high moral values, it benefits not only the individual or group but the institution to which it belongs and the Sport itself. In this article on HealthProTips, we will talk about competition in sports.


The impulse of overcoming is intimately linked to survival and to the tendencies of domination that man possesses. This impulse appears very early in our lives and it is possible to observe it clearly in children’s games. In these, the child repeats actively what he has previously experienced passively. The game also serves as behavior that models, limits, and recreates the child’s fantasy.

Profound will be the relationship that can be established between the game and the sport since both have similar aspects with the common denominator of pleasure as a primordial affection.

In these games it will be possible to find factors that make the competition, being a clear example the exercise of the roles linked to authority, where the child learns to deal with codes where the leader exists, which depends on which is improved, the that competes. These games implicitly meet the imaginary satisfaction of vital needs, giving meaning to the entire personal structure, both physical and psychosocial. These vital needs will last a lifetime and “posteriori” can be satisfied by the professions, sports and other channeling activities.

In all of these, it is also possible to sublimate the constitutional and natural human aggressiveness, with the consequent secondary benefit.

An adequate infantile competition favors the evolution to different, later and more structured stages that increase and facilitate the physical emotional maturity of the child.
Hence the importance of “game-sport” at early ages. The child (and the adult) by going self-sufficient in their goals and brands, already acquiring a deep notion of perfecting their own personal resources.

The pleasure of succeeding

Although when a sport is won by an opponent, there is the consequent share of pleasure, everything indicates that it is self-improvement that operates with the greatest intensity in the psychic principle that regulates human pleasure. Imagine the indescribable pleasure when reaching the top of a mountain that had to be conquered.
This level of self-competence allows man, progressively to discover the enormous wealth of skills that he possesses and that for lack of learning are asleep in their interior, but, ready to be offered in favor of personal evolution.

The “best” is a substantial cultural value that acts as a discreet stimulus in every man who yearns for a dignified and pleasant life. This is why the athlete tries to swim “more” and “faster, jump “morehigher, put “more” goals.

This “more” is a constant linked to “more” pleasure. It is this “more” that produces greater vital fullness.
Any physical activity without pleasure is not recreational, so the chances of obtaining a consistent triumph are becoming increasingly distant.

As in human life we must continually win certain and certain resistances, a sporting triumph with its corresponding quota of pleasure gives meaning to the “sacrifices” of training. Sacrifices that by themselves have a therapeutic value linked to the very structure of sport.

Although the opposite of success would be defeat, this in the case of not being repeated or constant is an important source of knowledge and therefore highly profitable to regulate self-esteem and neutralize omnipotent fantasies of “everything I can” linked to narcissistic disorders of the personality.

In the background all human triumph will always hold the idea that life can over death. Although each one of us has the same destiny, life goes on in a continuous going forward.

The perfection

Perfection exists only as a human idea. Moreover, it is a fundamental part of the imaginary structure towards which we tend through the path of self-improvement and which forms an idealization of “the best”. Hence, perfection holds in its interior a “plus ultra”, a more that calls us to obtain it.
The path we take positively will be the progress of that project that in sports is marked by the goals to be achieved and the corresponding performance.

The perfection thus understood is an engine that drives us to compete with us or with others. But, well, when we have achieved a proper level of performance, there may be a temporary need for rest. Which if it is too long can conformed to lose the stimulus of improvement. Traditionally this situation is manifested in the popular saying “sit on the laurels.” This will be a form of defeat with multiple and negative consequences. “Sitting on the laurels” will be the “perfect form of defeat”.

While there are perfect sports, although some seem so, since no sport alone has the ability to contain all physical skills simultaneously, unless they integrate several; The sport shows how perfect is that human machine called body that in each of its processes “repeats” the organization of the Universe as we have come to know it today.

Competence and self-esteem

Numerous theoretical studies and empirical observations have reached the conclusion that, the level of self-esteem increases favored by the overcoming of the own performance.

Also, like other activities, man in sport can prove that he is subject to rules and laws that are characteristic of the physical, psychological and social. Having a modeled body, strong, active, attractive, is an ideal common to men and women. This aspect is increased by cultural values ​​and fashion, the latter being a kind of tyranny to which one must obey to act within certain and certain nuclei.

If you have this type of body imposed by society, you feel accepted and integrated to it. In the case in which the person does not correspond to the prevailing patterns in that culture and if he is very aware of the recognition of others, it is possible that there will be feelings of exclusion, marginalization or inferiority. It is coincidentally this last feeling that gives rise to a personal deficit structure.
According to the help given to that person positive changes will be obtained. This type of help may well come from therapeutic treatments such as from the same field of sports activity or from an integrated combination of both.

This type of people have as much to self-criticize as to censor others, have a low threshold of resistance to frustrations or failures, isolate themselves and react in an exaggerated manner to any indication that they are made, are uncompetitive, generally reject the group integration, and being next to them forces us to protect them.

Generally people who have feelings or complexes of being inferior, compete but from a negative angle. They exclude themselves and by not integrating in fact and even without consciously wishing to sabotage both the team to which they belong and the same activity. They can become, depending on the structure of the group, a kind of load that the members of the team support for a time, but that ultimately will be expelled from it.

Those types of people with conflicts of inferiority who practice some sport can, however, manage to channel in it the aggressiveness that this complex always produces as self-aggression or aggression directed towards others. Sport thus serves, among its other benefits, as an escape valve to the physical-psychic pressure that we naturally accumulate in daily life.

Not necessarily the aggression is harmful since the same in a coordinated way serves for personal defense and is a positive substrate for activities that require a certain amount of aggression. But when the aggression is not derived correctly it produces deep deteriorations in the personal structure.

In those people with a marked decrease in self-esteem, in addition to the necessary specifically therapeutic help, the practice of an accessible sport, will provide a certain self-recognition or recognition by others that would favor the acquisition of the necessary well-being for each person. Human. Sport in itself can make a person achieve prestige, value it, accept it and recognize it.

Except for rare exceptions to a true sportsman deep psychological deviations are known, but before certain situations that surpass its structure they can be generated conflicts that alter the normal professional growth.

For some reasonable reason, the therapeutic role of sport has always been praised. 
In all those cases that the coach has perceived some conflict of inferiority in the athlete that has diminished his self-esteem and negatively increased its competitive aspects, not only can help by referring it to the specialized professional but it would be convenient to guide him possible, real and likely goals to be achieved in order not to introduce into the life of that athlete, other levels that increase their anguish by not being able to obtain the expected success according to the proposed objectives.

In this aspect the athlete trainer relationship must be subtle and delicate and as the athlete overcomes certain inhibitions, his level of aspirations can be increased in order to achieve better performance. This gradual progression is improving the sports “performance” and ensuring a better quality of personal life.

In the personalities with inferiority complex the following processes can be found:
In personalities with an inferiority complex, the following points can be found that make up a progressive development within a process of an unconscious nature:

  • origin of the conflict
  • structuring and permanence of the same
  • emergency of the complex in front of certain situations that can be assimilated to the one that originated it
  • structural defenses in front of the complex
  • frustration over the inability to access what is desired
  • Aggression as an affection derived from frustration
  • deposition of the aggression on the same person
  • projection of the aggression on others always finding a “emissary goat”

And what happens when the team or the athlete loses? The same public (by mass identification) can feel a loser and overturn the anger against the coach (a scapegoat always at hand) or on the team.
Also this public through the sometimes more extravagant rationalizations defends itself from defeat… The thing is, not feeling a loser, not feeling inferior.

In the whole history of sports, to glorify the one who wins and to reject, to punish the one who loses is a commonplace.
These data allow us to infer that although there is reason and rational sports, emotion is what plays a role as fundamental as fundamental.

Competitive personality

When we talk about competitive personality we should define what is the concept of personality to which we will refer? We understand the personality as the singular thing of man that emerges from his individuality in direct relation with the environment with the active interaction.

Man has always been involved with other similar people, innately a social being. Many are the attempts to cover with a single term the multiplicity of factors that make up the personality criterion. Among them we find a historical differentiation between temperament and character. The first will be for the fixed, corporal, inherited, while the second is reserved for the exclusively psychological.

In turn, the temperament is subdivided into four major groups: the sanguine (affective, happy, and excited), the angry (irascible, “few fleas”), the phlegmatic (apathetic, not very communicative, quiet, isolated) and the melancholic (depressed, dejected), personal forms that can temporarily be modified by him “mood”.

We might think that, if sport as we have indicated above, is a pleasure promoter, the best athletes could be found among the sanguine, but we cannot fail to notice that not all sports have the same characteristics and that there are sports that due to their Structure can be practiced by people who necessarily must be “sanguine”.

In addition, each person has a different experience of pleasure, a different way of living the pleasant. On the other hand there are sports, the rational ones for example, in which the pleasure is related to the “intellectual movement” and not inevitably with the corporal movement.

Age, socio-economic level, culture, the possibility of leisure time are also co-determining factors in the choice and practice of sports. There are certain sports whose share of pleasure is in the social that can be found in them, or there are those sports that are used as a form of both economic and professional negotiation.

Nor can it be said so lightly that if the person is extroverted, it will be more competitive since there are sports in which the necessary introversion for attention and concentration, golf for example, is a predominant factor in making the activity successful. These two types of personality, the extroverted and the introverted, are presented in pure form and there is a possibility that they may vary and complement each other.

In any case, according to the personality structure, some and no other sports will be chosen and the level of competitiveness will be determined by intimate aspects of this structure and the external factors that stimulate it positively.

Since kids

From the earliest childhood these types of temperaments and characters are modeled, highly determined by the family nucleus and the first institutions (school, church) to which the child has access. But also in the club, the sport will operate as a modifier, container and channeled of children’s temperament and character.

Children, by competing both from games and from sports appropriate to their possibilities, are gradually developing physical and psychological skills with which a posteriori could be handled with greater ease and success in adult life. In this regard, there would be a lack of studies confirming or not the present hypothesis. But, today no one denies the fundamental importance of sport as recreation and as a trainer of positive behaviors. The fact that the child prefers individual or group games would allow us to suppose that a posteriori would be devoted to the practice of sports of similar characteristics, although this is a hypothesis that deserves to be corroborated. In fact, favoring group play-sports in the child could influence the process of socialization and democratization.

All those people who carry out group sports activities, learn to handle more skillfully their competitive abilities. At the same time, religious, social, racial, and economic differences will not be taken into account in a team. When the team competes these differences tend to neutralize in pursuit of the common goal, the success of the group.

The tolerance, the understanding, the esprit de corps found in the sports teams, modify the individual structure of each player allowing him to channel their negative aspects within a comprehensive and integral competitive framework.

Always a team will be more attractive to the masses. In sports in which more than one person acts, it is easier to identify and be one of those who play. In these teams, the child will not only learn rules that regulate their individual personality, but also integrate them into a group that can obtain more easily the recognition of the public, among whom the father and relatives will be, as well as teachers and friends, which increases in consequently their self-esteem.

If the sport activity favors the development of the child as a direct consequence it will favor the same family structure and when more significant will be then that sport practiced by the whole family. The generation gap will be attenuated and hierarchized much more integration factor than the age factor.

Why do we compete?

Competing is a verb that is associated with many others, about living, playing, feeling pleasure, gaining power, recognizing, recognizing, downloading aggressiveness, channeling personal deficits, growing, etc. But, it will depend on the positive way or not in which we compete that the competition will benefit our life. Since competition is an integral activity, the entire personal system is at stake. Not only the “muscles” and “organs” benefit, but the psychology of the man who competes also perceives it, because the competition is also overcoming, courage, dream, and fantasy.

There are so many verbs that accompany competing that we could risk saying that life itself is competition, but a competition with values, rules, traditions and behavior models that make the human being develop a deep sense of dignity and balance.

During the time of competition there is a marked tension that in people could be experienced as a nuisance or as an incentive.

That momentary loss of the balance referred to above, will force you to try to recover it, so this tension would serve as support and meaning.

It will be in that category of games called “agon” where, according to Roger Caillois (1969) would be the dispute, the fight, the competition, the desire to win and recognition of victory. Of course there will be sports in which competition is minor or almost non-existent, but even when invisible, man competes against those “strange forces” such as wind, speed, height, vertigo, which, even though they are “unreal opponents”, behave with all the fierceness of their powers. This author writes other types of games such as “alea”, games of chance, where destiny, chance, is the opponent. Another category is that of mimicry, disguise, drama, imitation and finally the so-called “ilinx” (from the Greek: swirl), within which are skiing, skating and speed sports.

In all these sports, the human being is tested again and again. Your wish will be to win or win, serving the victory to self-assess your physical conditions, the learning accomplished, your level of effort and the “performance” obtained.

When you study human nature deeply, you can see that there is in all men, some more in others less, a constant need to know, to understand what is presented different, risky and attractive. That “something” will propose a challenge, which will generate creative responses in both variety and content. It is here where we will find that, in the same sport, different styles emerge that are in accordance with their personalities, abilities, training and exogenous possibilities. Anyway, either alone or as a team, with or without experience, rigorous or loose, high or low, white or black, man competes with himself because he is innate in him, the impulse to live.

Observing the competition

Maturity levels in the achievement of certain goals are not always objectively measurable, although subjectively evaluable. There are many opportunities, progress that stops like who has reached a milestone and rest can stop access to a higher level, especially when an athlete has achieved a level of “performance” with a stabilized game style and changes it on the other with the aim of increasing its field of action or by mere creativity.

These changes can decrease the performance of athletes, until it is installed in the same physically, intellectually and experientially the corresponding representations. Success will come immediately after the previous stage has been integrated into the new model. The security thus obtained will be an objectively observable factor since its characteristic stamp will be imposed. The public may say, this athlete is competent because even changing his style is still “good”. This would be a clear model of self-competition. Here the level of aspiration of the athlete has been played within a disciplined field and in accordance with the athlete’s previous accumulated experiences. He is the one who, with the help of his coach, will be able to set higher and higher levels to obtain a better and better development of his own possibilities.

This level of aspiration may well be his own or his coach’s, but it may well be stimulated by his peers for the rewards offered in both professional and monetary development, or by the philosophy of the institution to which he belongs. In any case, your level of aspiration will be deeply linked to the idealization that you have of your staff and the future you wish to access. In all these aspects, the profound motivation that the human being has to overcome all that hinders his evolution is played.

Chaos or cosmos?

We have previously mentioned that the athlete will regulate his activity within a disciplined field. It deserves to be added to this situation the undeniable fact that all men long for an order in the face of certain chaotic situations with which reality is presented. This ordering not only constitutes a form of delicate balance between man and nature observable in the object of all intellectual doctrines but in the very structure of sport.

Sport orders, establishes functional hierarchies, channels conducts, forms characters, is therapeutic. In all these places the structure of the person in its multiple aspects is played in its multiple aspects. Among them it’s moral, its honesty, and its honesty. These values ​​and the need to succeed within a level of competence appropriate to the activity and its general possibilities, are manifested within a field of discipline.

This discipline is what is understood as a resource that will serve as guidance and guidance in the learning process of all sports activities. Each person will understand the discipline according to their experience and yearnings of projection. This is what will allow you not only to regulate your own behavior but also to adapt to group behavior.

It is undeniable that a successful sport with a high level of performance, will require precise and clear rules to regulate its activity. The athlete can have greater security if he is guided by a coach who in turn is a disciplined person and shows it by his example. This aspect is much more noticeable when dealing with children or young people, who necessarily need another model or pattern with which to identify themselves, beyond the family area, where generically the one that will propose models of orderly behaviors will be the parents or close relatives.

The support (“holding”) of the discipline is well known in all those activities in which constant success is obtained. On the other hand the sport discipline with its particularities, beneficial both to the individual, as to the group, as well as to the sporting activity and to the institution to which I and his team belong.

The corporal discipline manifested in the orderly and systematic practice of a sport as well as in the intellectual one will allow to evaluate with greater clarity the obtained performance.

But in this respect it is worth noting that it is a discipline that does not lack the necessary pleasant stimulation for sport, since it has an immediate sensation not only of bodily enjoyment but also of that which has to do with the “set of norms and rules that make it up”. Mission accomplished”.

Everything in nature, even when it appears superficially disordered, follows a certain plan that allows its survival, its development, its growth and its transcendence. Although still under exuberant forms and some of them, “chaotic”, nature gives its imprint to the eyes of men, the project that sustains it is subject to norms that are essential. Even beyond the beings that make up the natural fact, they are all regulated in the so-called ecosystems. I will be the athlete who with a disciplined activity, methodically ordered and in accordance with the prevailing patterns for their activity, will form a style of sports ecosystem in which they will enter their person, their coach, their group, the public, the institution. And it will be in the best case that this ecosystem maintains its balance through a plastic and creative discipline.

The same human history, shows that periodically the achievements are lost based on the effort made by all those beings that propose to the extension of life on our planet. It is then that a new reordering of the norms that regulate human behavior becomes necessary and in which discipline as a creative resource allows the overcoming of chaos.

If we analyze all sports carefully, we will not only observe that none of them has a chaotic form but, on the contrary, they are ordered according to an aesthetic that they make to their structure and consistency and that when a person practices them, they can identify themselves. His life in a judicious and pleasant way. For this, among many other reasons, is that we are convinced that sport has a powerful core of creativity inside that stimulates the orderly progress of man from the most intimate and unique structure.

This article is purely informative, in HealthProTips we do not have the faculty to make a diagnosis or recommend a treatment. We invite you to go to a psychologist to treat your particular case.


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