How Competition Can Facilitate Performance Improvement

Are you training in a void? I am a firm believer in goal setting. Without goals it becomes hard to establish action plans (in this case training plans) to drive improvement. In the world of business and athletics there is no such thing as standing still, there is only moving forwards or falling backwards. For this reason goal setting and action plans are essential in making sure you’re focused on improving yourself or your results and moving forward.

The interesting thing about goals is they often seem to get shifted around due to the normal happenings in life. Dates move, targets get revised, and life happens; examples include projects coming up at work or a vacation getting scheduled. Heck, even an unexpected sunny day can overcome that day’s motivation to train. This is where the value of competitive events comes in.

training in a void

Having a planned competitive event scheduled (or series of events) puts hard fixed dates to your goals. The dates don’t change because you strained your quad or your little sister is getting married. What you do is figure out how to deal with these things within the confines of your fixed schedule, because there is no flexibility to your goal.

In addition to created firm dates you have to live by, it also provides additional focus and motivation to your training goals and objectives. Having that event looming in the future clearly defines what you’re working to achieve. It is not some loosely defined goal, and this clear goal provides the sharp crisp focus and purpose to your training plan. This purpose feeds one’s motivation.

Now, there are those people who just have that incredible level of consistency and dedication to continued improvement. It may be easy to question why these people would need to rely on this method to provide the clarity and motivation to their training. The truth is they don’t; they need it for another reason. Oftentimes people truly training at this level are doing so due to some behavioral issues, such as compulsive or addictive behavior patterns.

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With this type of behavior pattern it can be nearly impossible to get the person to occasionally down-regulate their training, which is needed to maximize their results. Personally, I fall into this category and things like major surgeries, vacations, births of children, or career changes make little to no effect on my training. It is only the competitive event that forces me to down-regulate my training so I can “realize” the results and achieve the recovery needed before my next training cycle.

Regardless of your sport participating in competitive events are a key piece in maximizing your potential and keeping you moving forward and progressing. Benefits include:

  • Clarity of goals
  • Inflexible dates forcing you to accommodate them (not the other way around)
  • Motivation
  • Forced down-regulation and “realization” periods

What’s your next event?