The are many reasons why people want to compete in any given sport: It could be for the experience; to learn more about their strengths and weaknesses; to face fresh challenges; or to learn to deal with the psychological aspects of competition.

The above are just some of the positive reasons for competing, and thus the decision to compete should be regarded as the same as with any other aspect of learning.

Discover what the key factors for learning are and then stick to them.

Consistency is often talked about as one of the keys to learning. And nothing could be truer for competition.

I often see people compete based on convenience, making excuses that a competition is too far, that the date clashes with another of their priorities, and that the cost is too much. As a result they rarely compete, and inconsistency creeps in.

Plan ahead! Make a schedule and a plan B in case someone important decides to get married or have a baby on that day. There may be two competitions close to each other. Pencil them both in. Save money at the beginning of the competition season, and yes! Definitely think of competing as a seasonal task.

Task is a good word. Similar to the word Job, it is exactly how you should be approaching the competition circuit. You don’t one day wake up and decide working is not for you (although I’m sure some people do). No, you treat competition as a job that you enjoy and need to accomplish to the best of your ability.

Once the job is done, once the season is over, then we reflect on the results of your labor.

A thick skin to me is another important factor. At the early stages of any given subject that I was learning, whether it was languages or dance, acquaintances have often said things which could have made me give up.

If you are too weak to believe in yourself; you are more worried about what other people think and say; and you don’t know why you are learning something, then you are not going to make the most of the journey.

Which comes to the goal! What is your goal. Why compete at all if it’s so much hassle and inconvenience? That’s true. If this is how you see competition then it’s best not too compete at all.

If however you have a bigger vision and clearly understand the positives behind competing then it’s definitely for you.

Finally a note on “winning”.

I couldn’t care less if a competitor entered and lost in the first round of several comps if he had fought the best he could. The keys would be to not give up, reflect on what could be done better and continue through the season knowing that they would come out stronger.

I would however care more if a competitor kept winning gold at low level competitions, and was cherry picking easy wins solely to satisfy their ego.

So to summarise:

1/ Be Consistent! Plan a season of competitions with a plan B back up

2/ Have a thick skin! Competing is for you, not for what other people think

3/ Have a Goal! Know what it is you are getting out of competing and embrace it.

4/ Keep your ego in check if learning is a goal!

One of my top competitors recently said that it was great that in his bracket they would have a round robin system which would mean that he would get an extra fight, and he was pleased he would medal whether he won or lost, not for the medal, but for the fact that it meant as a medalist he could fight again in the absolute.

Basically the more fights you get the more experience you attain.

I have always regarded competitors who have have had four fights but not medalled with equal or higher esteem to those who won two fights and got gold.