Sport Development - How to Create Positive Competitiveness

There is a tricky learning curve to knowing when the best time is to encourage your athletes to take their competitive spirit to the next level. How hands on, is too hands on? Knowing the stages of sports development for any sport can help.

The first step in the process of sports development is building the foundation. This consists of learning the basic rules, routines, and positions through basic level coaching and teaching that takes place in sports at the basic school and fun club activity level. This is the time to let go a little and let your athlete fly free. Let them figure things out and learn the importance of what practice is for. There is a direct correlation between practice and improvement, so allowing that natural instinct of wanting to improve for their own personal satisfaction and competitive fulfillment is crucial during the earliest stages of sport. 

The next stage in sports development is the participation factor. Teams will develop and structured coaches sessions will become regular. This will require some personal accountability of your athlete, especially in any team sport. The learning of basic skills will continue to develop and your athletes will build their confidence, the more they are challenged in this group setting. More opportunities will arise to compete and put their skills into practice during games, meets, and competitions depending on the sport. 

Never force your athlete to compete. The competitive drive tends to hit athletes at different times and in different ways. The more something is forced, the more the athlete tends to push away or avoid. Remember, it is important to hold your athlete accountable to their commitments, but be aware of their triggers and what drives them to WANT to compete and improve.  

Next up on the sports development pyramid is performance. At this point, your athlete will begin to take personal responsibility for their actions and mindset for their sport. The athletes will now have the independence and knowledge to know how to handle certain situations in sports but have the feedback and support from their coaches. It is easy to get caught up and want to become your athletes sideline coach. As a parent, your role is to support and love your athlete in time of success and lose. Longevity, success, and desired competitiveness in sport comes from athletes who want success and improvement for personal reasons. 

The ultimate level in sport is the Elite level. A level that most athletes desire and strive for, but not all reach. It takes a very certain physical and mental make up to reach this level in sport. Although, this is a major goal for most, it is important not to let your athlete or yourself as a parent lose sight of the reason for starting sport in the first place. Too much pressure will take away the fun in it and unhappy athletes are not fast or performing athletes.

Being competitive is natural for us all, but being pushed too hard or feeling the pressures of having to reach a certain level in sports at a young age can take away the desire to be competitive. Talk with your athlete and find that balance.

RISE Blog Contributor

Jess Rocheleau