Tight Mind Monday: Countdown To Competition Pt. 4, Joy in Competition

Tight Mind Monday: Countdown To Competition Pt. 4, Joy in Competition

Tight Mind Monday: Countdown to Competition Pt.4, Joy in Competition

We all know that you compete better when you are in a place of joy. When you try to compete under too much stress and pressure, you’re always a bit too tight. So this Tight Mind Monday, let’s talk about some things that steal your joy during competition and some focus points to get your mind tight and happy!

Joy Stealers

The first joy stealer is something we’ve talked about many times on Tight Mind Monday — it’s putting too much focus on hitting and outcomes. When you worry about not making a mistake or “having to hit,” you put too much pressure on yourself and the result is doing the thing you are most afraid of doing!

Another joy stealer is comparison. Comparison is when you look outside of yourself to find similarities or differences between other athletes, scores, difficulty, or execution. Sometimes comparison can be good, if you use it to motivate you to be better. But most of the time when you compare yourself to your teammates, other athletes, or analyze scores, it only makes you feel less than you should be. 

It’s hard to be joyful at a competition when you are always feeling not quite good enough!

Joy Bringers

So now that we got the joy stealers out of the way, let’s look at three things you can focus on that will bring the joy of competition back into your mind and heart!

The first joy bringer is changing your focus from pressure to performing! 

We all love to perform. And you might have found that some of your best gymnastics happened when you were doing a “show.” It might have been a show just for parents, the holidays, or the little kids in your gym. When you compete, think of it as “showtime”!  Imagine it is just an opportunity to perform your routines and reveal how far you’ve come.

Secondly, remember to focus on simply doing your best in any given moment at the competition. 

When you put your attention on going big or all-out, the energy moves away from worry and towards effort. Effort is always something you can control, and when you are in control you are much more joyful.  

Finally, sometimes at competitions we can become very self-focused. Gymnasts worry about how I'M are going to do, or if I’M are going to make an error. 

One sure-fire way of getting into joy this competition season is changing from a me-focus to a we-focus! 

That is, putting your attention on your teammates and supporting them. Cheer loud, give lots of high fives, and compliment your teammates after a good performance! It’s hard to not be joyful when you are celebrating the season with your best friends!

Remember, don’t focus on what you are going to get at the competition, but what you are going to give. Give a great routine, a high-energy performance, and a big smile. When you do that, you will definitely feel the joy this competition season.


Alison Arnold, Ph.D. has been a peak performance consultant to USA Gymnastics since 1997. For more information on Doc Ali and her work, go to www.headgameswebcamp.com or www.headgamesworld.com