Pressure and Expectations in Competition

Conversations I’ve had around the gym lately prompted reflection on the pressure and expectations often associated with competing. I know this is something a lot of people struggle with, even those who don’t compete, but are just looking to do well at every climbing session.

In the focus and routine of training, and in the never-ending quest to improve, it can be difficult to maintain perspective. It is natural to want to do our best every time we compete and it can be frustrating when that doesn’t happen. Sometimes this is due to lack of preparation or poor decisions and in these cases it is important to evaluate what can be done better in the future. But oftentimes, it isn’t that we didn’t do well or perform at our best, but rather that we are looking at a part of a whole without realizing that it is only a part. Training designed to produce peak performance in the future can result in diminished performance in the near term. Circumstances beyond our control will have an impact. It can be difficult to put oneself out there and compete when not at your peak, but it is an important and valuable part of training and experience. The expectation of peak performance at every competition, especially for those who compete often, is unrealistic.

Our harshest critics and judges tend to be ourselves. Remember to be fair and realistic when evaluating yourself. Remember that the vast majority of others are impressed by what you CAN do rather than disappointed by what you CAN”T do. (If they even noticed that you couldn’t!) Remember that there are reasons to be climbing beyond showing everyone and/or yourself that you are the best. Remember to relax and have fun, but always try hard and THINK you can do it, because that’s the best you can do!

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