Sports & Fitness

Competitive Sports Can Teach Valuable Life Skills

Naomi Osaka Tennis Champ

The term ‘competitive sports’ may seem like an obvious combination, even redundant. Well, not really, as not all sports are  competitive. While a sport is an activity involving physical exertion and skills, competitive sports include the element of individuals or teams competing against one another, sometimes for a reward or simply for an exhibition, or just sheer enjoyment of playing.

According to the World Sports Encyclopedia, there are over 8,000 competitive sports. As one goes through each of these, a familiar pattern of life lessons begins to shape up. It seems competitive sports are designed to teach us a thing or two about life.

Life lessons taught by competitive sports

The skills taught are learned whether we win or lose. From either position we learn what was never taught in educational settings.

We play sports to win. But when we’re losing, we may learn either one or all of the following lessons:

  1. We need help
  2. We can get behind sometimes
  3. Learn from defeats

We need help

When you’re losing, you get plenty of motivation to reassess your current options and realize your need for help. Without losing in competition, our complacency can be easily excused.

Liverpool’s 2005 Champions League final win is partially owed to important tactical changes and substitution by coach Rafael Benitez. He realized he could overrun the midfield by playing five midfielders instead of the initial four midfielders and replaced Steven Finnan with Dietmar Hamann. The resulting victory teaches us when the chips are down, we get down and get help to change what needs to be changed.

When a child gets failing grades,  the ability to ask for help will work for her. She could ask herself “Where can I find resources to help me with my math homework?” 

There’s no shame in getting help. Make that tactical change and substitution if necessary, and you will have a great comeback.

Competitive Sports Volleyball

We can get behind sometimes

Sometimes we do everything right, but victory is still elusive;, we appear to be on the back foot. Competitive sports teach us that with grit and determination we can overcome any setback. Olympic gold medalist,Usain Bolt quipped, “There are better starters than me, but I’m a great finisher.”

Are others you started business with already making profit while you’re yet to break even?

You could choose to cry wolf and sleep in the cozy pillow of self-pity, or you can channel your inner competitive sportsman and the sentiments of Tennis legend Tiger Woods: “The greatest thing about tomorrow is I will be better than I am today.”

Competitive Sports Sprint Race Run

Learn from defeats

Very young children are often told, “You’re all winners!” They are rewarded for participation.  Children who compete find out that winning has a meaning beyond ribbons and prizes. The children who engage in competition are more emotionally able to handle life’s challenges.

Kids who grow up without dealing with failure are in for a rude shock in life when they encounter failure at school, work or relationships.

Competitive sports let us know that while it is great to win the trophy, losing doesn’t make us losers.

Tennis star Serena Williams states, “I don’t like to lose — at anything …. Yet I’ve grown most not from victories, but setbacks. If winning is God’s reward, then losing is how he teaches us.”

Serena Williams Tennis Champ

When we win we learn about teamwork and rewards for hard work. When we lose we also learn that doesn’t have to be the end to our story.

Competitive sports teach us that it’s okay to lose, and we should learn from our mistakes, not repeat them.

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