Playing down to your competition is something every athlete
has heard before. If you have not giving into the temptation to slack off on a
game against a much lesser opponent, I commend you. The action is involuntary,
there’s nothing to get the heart pounding, the blood flowing and your mind
flooded with nothing but the task at hand. One on one against pops does not
usually result in, depending on the situational father-child relationship, a
bloodied nose and a blackened eye. In order to feel the rush of competition,
the high of playing at your best, you truly must be playing the best. Some of
my best baskets have been scored due to the fact that I wanted to flatten the
girl I was posted up in. I wanted to downright slam her on the floor, hover
above and ask if she was ready for tonight cause she was going to need a hot
compress and a bubble bath after I sent her home. I jumped higher, moved quicker
and turned toward the goal with more force than I could naturally. Not only in
basketball do I feel the rush of the need to level the competition but also in
track, a non contact, self control, under pressure sport where most of the time
my only competition was myself. Not saying I did not have other competition
from the teams I threw against but I knew, just as they did, it would take a
really good day for one of them to reach me.  Which got to me. I had no one to look at with disgust,
no one to watch warming up and feel my heart rate quicken and my stomach
tighten when her punch fell uncomfortably close to my mark. Sometimes however,
someone big, someone naturally made for the shot, wide hips, long legs strong
arms and core, would walk past me to her teams tent and I would feel it. It was
her I was watching during warm ups. After I would pop a few, way past most all
my other competition, I would take a quick glance, see her watching me and
smile at my coach, he always understood. Coach liked that I had someone pushing
me, he knew just as I knew, it was what I needed. Warming up for states I had
my eye on someone, she was the only threat within a foot of me. My first throw
however, I lined up, stared at her coach, placed the cold ball against my neck,
dropped my back forward, pushed off my foot and twisted my body to throw a foot
past my record. The usually calm crown around the pit burst into cheer with
excitement. Some Dads looking at their daughters with eyes that said “Well
there’s who you have to chase. You better pick it up.” Having someone to beat
is the best way to do your best.

2 Responses to “Competition”

  1. sweinstein says:

    I think that having a person to compare yourself against is the best way to make you play better. Before I had a race I would always watch the other girls practicing their sprints and getting warmed up. A lot of them would try and show off, but you could always tell the ones who were really serious about competing by the way they watched the other runners.
    You wanted to be better than they were, I cannot remember any time that I played beneath my level to be like the other team. I have played soccer and lacrosse and I rant rack. I always wanted to be better. So I don’t agree with Charlotte in that sense. I know it differs with every athlete, but I cannot picture myself being less of a player to match the quality of the other team.

  2. Charlotte Owens says:

    Before every soccer game you look out onto the field and start to get focussed. My coach used to give us a pre game so that we knew what we should be expecting; who do we watch our for, what are they looking to do and what is their style of play? The one thing you always hear is that “you are better than they are”. It’s the same in every sport, but it seems more prevalent with women athletes, you go out to play your game but you always end up playing beneath your level to play like the other team. Im not sure what it is in our minds, but it happens and you become a second half team.
    All sports are played physically different, but the mentality of the game for women at least does not change