Competitiveness and Schooling


This article addresses the importance of the development of competitiveness in athletes, and the stages within it. We will divide the subject into 5 parts: the stages of competitiveness, defeats, discipline, and the role of parents.

Today the competition is getting stronger and stronger in all areas, both academic and work. All people want and need to be competitive, for which it is necessary to develop certain essential skills.

In a context such as education, the development of competitiveness generates a lot of interest and concern on the part of parents. They are torn between the dilemma formed by the competitive world in which their children live and the desire for their children to have a happy development without major pressure, at least during the school stage. The latter does not imply, as some believe, that later they cannot have the competitive capacity developed.

Sport today moves the interest of millions of people around the globalized world, as well as many millions of dollars, and it becomes increasingly competitive and tough. This competitiveness is often unnecessarily transferred to athletes in schools, making sports practice seem like a war when its purpose is precisely to recreate, have fun, form ties of friendship, camaraderie, build morals and establish values. When it is applied in this way, all it does is generate stress and anxiety, which leads to a decrease in fun in sports and can even generate a series of physical and psychological discomforts. The aim of the schools is not to get sports awards but to train people, and an important part of this training includes both recreational and competitive sports.

Sport cannot be separated from education. If we want better athletes, we need to train better human beings. If education improves, inevitably, sport will improve, as it will make you more responsible, committed, broaden your criteria for making decisions, etc., the progress and success of one goes hand in hand with the other. Sport in the educational field is as important as regular subjects such as comprehensive communication, mathematics, etc., because it contributes to the comprehensive training of the student just as the arts do.

Sport establishes and provides a series of tools to children that will be useful and of great importance in the future, such as discipline, perseverance, fighting spirit, self-improvement, respect for authority, tolerance for frustration, confidence, self-esteem, health, quality of life, work and life ethic, etc. By establishing in them a culture of sport, the ideal is for it to accompany them throughout their lives. To achieve this, it is also important when asking about matches not to ask the classic and archaic question: did you win or lose? but how did it go? you had fun? Did you improve your technique? It must be remembered that sporting success is clearly subjective (even if it seems objective), especially in the school environment, the competition must be given with oneself, the athlete must overcome personally (the ideal is that this also occurs in the high competition and is healthier psychologically).


In national sports we observe how a high level of competitiveness and obtaining great results in very early stages are erroneously required. Competitive championships are organized for 6, 8, 10 and / or 12 years, ages in which the sport must be purely recreational and educational (both emotionally, physically and technically), to establish solid foundations in complete training and integral of the child within the sport: technical aspects (according to each sport), physical aspect (coordination, endurance, speed and later strength), strengthening of the child’s emotional life (self-esteem, confidence, personality, competitiveness, among others ) and the establishment of norms, discipline, values, morals, ethics, perseverance, tolerance for frustration, etc.

It should be noted that competitiveness should not be promoted or encouraged in boys under thirteen years of age, only practice for fun should be encouraged, and coaches should make all boys play. In these stadiums the only thing that matters is playful fun (at the same time that they learn how to play the techniques) and not the sports results.

There are stages of physical and psychological development that must be respected and expected, they cannot be rushed, they arrive when they have to arrive and trying to accelerate this process (because it cannot be rushed) what may cause injuries, burnout (psychological phenomenon of saturation) , sports stagnation, boredom, etc. It is only after the age of thirteen that it is possible to start working and promote competitiveness in young people without ever neglecting fun. It is only after the age of 13 approximately (remember the individuality of each subject so this can be advanced or delayed) when work must begin and demand competitiveness as a process, it cannot be untimely, but gradually. A baby cannot be asked to run before walking or a child to write before reading (and it never occurs to anyone to do so). Each stage has its moment, and they cannot be “skipped” or “burned”, as the young person, parents and / or coaches wish with all their might. 

Academic development can be homologated with sports development. There are psychological, evolutionary and developmental stages that are respected. There is an age to learn to walk, an age to learn to read, another for equations and other mathematical operations, etc. In sports it is exactly the same: first, the psychomotor aspect, coordination and other areas must be worked on, a strong power workload cannot be introduced to boys of 8 or 10 years old, it would cause injuries and threaten growth, this in with regard to the physical, in the same way with the psychological. That is why the importance of minor games, free games without a defined structure and pre-sports games, games of a poorly structured way that familiarize children with sports activities, creating in them a taste for physical activity and sports, increasing their self-confidence, self-esteem and the taste for fun by the activity itself, obtaining an intrinsic reward and the end would precisely be the sporting activity. Sport is and should be games and fun (this even in the highest competitive spheres, unfortunately this often does not happen that way). If before that love for physical work and sports is established, one begins to insist on competitiveness, pressure to win and achieve success, a potential athlete could be killed. 

To make all of the above clearer, we present a small diagram in this regard:

Sub 12: All selected students must play, promoting only and exclusively fun, and the results are not interesting.

Sub 14: You can start to promote and develop competitiveness, seeking greater sporting results, but still, trying to ensure that there is a certain rotation of the team’s players.

Sub 17: Competitiveness must already be consolidated here, so the competitions will be tougher and greater sporting successes are sought, with which the fight for the title becomes more intense.

It does not seem logical to think that a child likes to perform an activity that scares him, where there are screams, arguments by parents, punishments for poor results, coaches, referees, bars, even fights or others. On the contrary, he will seek to avoid those stressful and frightening situations. Nobody wants to do something that is a total pain and that offers, when bought on the scale, more dissatisfactions than satisfactions. These stimuli leave a mark on the mind that can be indelible, causing an aversion to competitive sports or even sports in general. Sport at all its levels should be fun, both when it is formative and competitive (although it is known that it is more difficult to achieve in this), it does not make sense to practice a sport that does not generate fun and joy.

“The rich thing that sports has, precisely team sports, is cooperation, solidarity, well even in team sports individualism predominates, triumph at any price, success, fame and money, and in the model In educational sports, what is really important is not to win but to play and have fun, beyond the result, it is a source of health and friendship, it does not matter so much if you won or not, what matters is to compete, play, enjoy and then meet people, it helps to know oneself better, to generate feelings of cooperation and solidarity and to be better people ”.

Roffé (1999)

It is important to note that competitiveness has stages that must be respected but that are not necessarily developed at the highest level. Its development is gradual, in stages and step by step, but not all of them manage to reach the maximum level (as well as moral development). Wanting to force its development in early stages that do not correspond, make it more likely that its development is truncated and does not reach its highest level.

For example: the Williams sisters (number one for several years in the women’s tennis circuit) only dedicated themselves to training until they were approximately sixteen years old, the father took charge of taking care of them and keeping them away from the competitive world until they were ready and prepared, physical and psychologically, let us remember that not everyone has the same level of maturity. They started competing on the circuit at the aforementioned age and no one will be able to say that they are not competitive, they took care of them, they waited and they did not rush their moment. It should be noted that they revolutionized current women’s tennis, they are a clear example of how competitiveness has its moment and its development, which you have to know how to wait for.

In Peru, stages are burned both physically and psychologically, that is why it is not possible to access world championships in collective sports (except for the honorable classification of the volleyball team in recent times, which could be the exception that confirms the rule). that it is easier for rare cases to appear that with their effort and personal dedication or that of their family members achieve success, such as Sofía Mulanovich, Analí Gómez, Gabriel Villarán, surfers, Akio Tamashiro, karateka, Luis Horna, Claudia Razzetto, tensitas, or athletes classified to Athens 2004, to mention the most recognized national athletes of recent times), team sports require planning, care and a collective effort to achieve the objectives, which makes the work more complex and minimizes the possibilities of resilient talents, since this is not enough, and it eliminates the coincidences, no longer existing in today’s highly competitive sport. This jump in stages produces and causes anxious children, stressed by sports and competitions, have difficulties sleeping, eating food, losing hair, biting their nails, stomachaches, headaches, sweating of the hands, they have somatizations, conversion symptoms, chronic injuries, etc; all for not respecting the stages. This, too, goes against the normal development of the personality, something to take into account in children and puberty, it must be remembered that they are a child growing and forming, the skeleton of the personality is only established at 18 years of age, subjecting them to High loads of stress and anxiety ahead of time can lead to problems with self-esteem, confidence, socialization, anxiety, and even depression. In sports in Peru it is believed that everything is for yesterday, and they believe that starting to win as soon as possible is synonymous with success, yes it is success at an early age but then they simply disappear and no longer occur in adulthood. In education, the stages are respected, they do not ask for a lawyer, architect or doctor in primary or third grade.

Obviously no one thinks about that, so why in sport yes? This need to skip stages generates unbridled passions, often irrational, in fathers (fathers who are frustrated soccer players) or fathers who have probably never competed (for example: many times mothers who have never competed in a sport are the worst offenders. behave regarding this issue). So why are their children being demanded so much and from such a young age in that area?

For this reason, it is important to emphasize that schools must fulfill an eminently formative role in all areas, academic development, evolutionary development, in values, morals and emotions, arts (painting, literature, music, etc.), and of course, in the sport. A school is not a sports club, although we believe that clubs should also train people in the broadest sense of the word, not only athletes but human beings. A club seeks success, a school seeks success in forming people who are as capable, with greater resources, as happy and satisfied as possible. 

If professional athletes emerge as a product of this training, in good time, but it is not the end of school. Even in sports clubs it should be the same, since only 2% of those who are in minors come to play in first class, so it would be good if they began to worry a little about their general training.


There are parents who believe that their children will become losers by not winning the championships in which they participate at an early age (6, 8, 10 and / or 12 years), when in reality it is the opposite. Peru is full of champions at these ages, and also of retired athletes at 15 or 16 years of age (the greatest dropout from sport occurs between 15 – 18 years of age). At that age we already have former athletes, when in reality the sports career begins at approximately 18.

Why rush to compete at such a young age? The formula should not be: Start earlier to compete = greater sporting success. Reality says the following: greater competition at an early age = retirement, also at an early age. If instead of promoting high competition at such an early age, they would dedicate themselves solely to training children, with love for sports, fun, technique, values, discipline, mentally, etc., they would have greater and better sporting results internationally. .

The competitive one is “picón”, and the “picón” is persevering. This must be a “piconería” oriented to change, to reverse the previous negative situation. It must be a “piconería” oriented to build. A misunderstood “rashness” will give rise to verbal and / or physical aggression responses that the only thing they will achieve is to “get” the athlete out of the game (mental expulsion, where the mind is not the body is not).  

As the popular saying goes: “he who gets bitten loses” (it totally affects attention and concentration, diverting the athlete from what should be his main objective, playing his sport). In the same way, the athlete can be withdrawn from the game, also harming his team. A constructive or positive “rashness” is appreciated when a school team loses by a large score and the next day absolutely everyone goes to train, and in this way they seek to remedy that situation, despite having the defeat fresh in their memory, since each defeat implies a loss, not physical but emotional, that diminishes and affects the person, so it is important that the person’s mental strength is formed (it should be remembered that before athletes are people). This speaks to us of a great commitment, group cohesion, a sense of belonging to their school, identification, perseverance and tolerance of frustration. That is why the idea of ​​being a winner or a loser is not shared. What is it to be a winner or a loser? Who is a winner and who is a loser?

In sport there are no undefeated athletes, what does exist are persevering people, fighters, with a high tolerance for frustration and who give their maximum at every opportunity. They are the winners, not the ones who “always win”, in quotes because nobody always wins and we believe that it applies to all professional and / or life areas.

On the other hand, defeats help to mentally strengthen young people. They develop tolerance for frustration and perseverance, it allows and gives them the opportunity to get back up, again and again, and as many times as necessary. That is what parents should want from their children. In this way they are acquiring tools and greater resources to face adverse situations and to be able to remedy them. In this way, mental strength is being created and consolidated in their children, not only for sports but for life in general.

The team of the 10-year-old category of a Peruvian soccer sports club went on a tour of Europe. In Denmark they played against a local club to which the national team won widely by more than twenty goals. The Danish fans at the end of the game were happy, singing, celebrating with streamers, balloons, sodas, snacks, etc. The Peruvian athletes for their part were completely stunned, they did not understand what was happening. What happened was that the Danes consider these formative stages, not only they (all sports developed countries) are not interested in winning but that their athletes get used to playing against others, having an experience, having fun learning the techniques without be focused on the result of a scoreboard but rather on acquiring the techniques while learning to love the sport while having fun. That is why they go almost continuously to the World Cups while Peru has not done so since 1982.


Defeats are a difficult subject for “boys” to assimilate, especially when they are not yet fully formed psychologically (the skeleton of the personality is only formed at approximately 18 years of age). This is why the handling of defeats by students has several variants. Understand the emotional impact that defeats can have on a little one. This implies a loss, not physical, but emotional, where a small part of oneself dies. He does not die, once but several times, because school athletes have to face the end of a defeat to their coach after the game, at night at home to their parents and / or brothers and the next day to their teachers and companions, the latter can often be very cruel.

George Foreman, one of the greatest boxers in history, faced Mohammed Ali in 1974. Foreman, 25, much younger and stronger, was the wide favorite, against a 32-year-old Ali. In turn, Foreman had demolished Ali’s classic rivals: Frazier and Norton. However, that night Ali won. It took Foreman twenty years to recover from the defeat, he says that he did not feel like a man or that he was worth as a person, and he entered a deep depression as a result of the defeat that took him away from the ring, truncating a promising career and causing him to lose millions of dollars. This is explained because he had never lost before , he did not know what it was to be in a disadvantageous situation, he had not experienced defeats in the stages in which he had to, to have a record of greater resources to face situations of this type, to be able to find within him the answers and the possibility of recovering from such a stumble. He lacked tolerance for frustration, a specific fact reduced his entire personal structure, both psychological (confidence, self-esteem and others) and work (he left his job), affecting his life at all levels. 

Denial of the result : For the reasons mentioned above, they use a series of defenses and resources to make defeats more bearable and / or tolerable:

 Appear that the result and the score do not affect them. This attitude is evidenced by the coach, parents, teachers, colleagues and / or peers. It is what they outsource without necessarily being what they really feel and think. They try to mentalize that they are not interested, in order to lessen the pain. By externalizing this at the same time you are internalizing the denial, “you are believing your own lie.” 

  • Do not give the maximum as a defense of the self (1) .

Another way to protect yourself is to not do your best. By not doing so, the athlete is guarding against defeat. If you don’t give your all, you are not “really” losing, as you will think that if you had tried your best you could have won. The reality is that he did not take a chance to avoid the possibility of losing. By not trying your best you don’t expose yourself. By doing your best you risk and expose your ability because if they lose under these conditions, it means that the other is better. If, on the other hand, he loses by “keeping” something, he has the internal consolation that ” if he had wanted to, he would have won.” Many times this occurs at deeper levels (unconsciously), making change even more difficult. This is a more common obstacle than you might think. 

* The best thing that parents can do in the face of their children’s defeats is to provide a climate of support and emotional support, and to respect the athlete in the way they deal with defeat without invading it.


Their can lose, that does not mean a problem, the problem appears when they lose and do not have fun out of fear, either because of a stronger biotype, bigger and more corpulent boys or of great technical solidity, or a team that works like a “little clock ”(Product of serious, systematic, orderly and disciplined work). The presence of fun is essential to achieve victory. An athlete and / or team that does not have fun does not win, they win because they have fun and not, as some believe that people have fun because they win.

Difficulties to achieve victory:

  • Devalued Self-Image vs. Overrated Image :

Boys may feel less than their rivals, either by being intimidated by their size and / or physical corpulence, or by their technical quality, or by a record in the mind of previous defeats against the same opponent. They see the superior opponent, with abilities that they cannot reach or obtain: “They are better than us.” It can be seen how these beliefs as children remain registered in the mind until adulthood, for example when the Peruvian team is seen in this situation when they play against countries like Argentina or Brazil, training defeated on the field due to their devalued image vs. the overvalued image of the opponent, conclusion the game is lost before playing it because in their minds there is nothing to do.  

(1) “Instance that Freud distinguishes between the id and the superego in his second theory of psychic birth.

From the topical point of view, the ego is in a dependent relationship, both with respect to the claims of the id and to the imperatives of the superego and to the demands of reality. Although he presents himself as a mediator, in charge of the interests of the whole person, his autonomy is purely relative.    

From the dynamic point of view, the ego eminently represents, in neurotic conflict, the defensive pole of the personality; it sets in motion a series of defense mechanisms, motivated by the perception of an unpleasant affect (sign of anguish). 

From the economic point of view, the self appears as a factor of linking of the psychic processes; but, in defensive operations, attempts to bind drive energy are contaminated by the characters that define the primary process: they acquire a compulsive, repetitive, arreal hue.

Psychoanalytic theory attempts to explain the genesis of the self within two relatively heterogeneous registers, either by considering it as an adaptive apparatus differentiated from the id by virtue of contact with external reality, or by defining it as the result of identifications that lead to formation, within the person, of an object of love cathected by the id.   

In relation to the first theory of psychic childbirth, the ego is more extensive than the preconscious-conscious system, since its defensive operations are largely unconscious. 

From a historical point of view, the topical concept of the self is the result of a notion that is constantly present in Freud from the origins of his thought “

(Laplanche and Pontails (1997, page 457).

  • Fear of success :

There is another relevant point: the fear of success. Indeed, although many may not believe it, there is a fear of winning. Why the fear of winning? Because winning brings with it a series of changes, which, many times, the athlete may not be willing to bear, along with new burdens, pressures and / or responsibilities. The fear of success exists and is real, because success brings with it a whole series of changes and responsibilities (“being the champion”, having the attention of the media, greater demands from peers, friends, peers, relatives, sponsors, manager, coach, fans, etc., more money, more people interested in one, psychological changes, the fumes can rise, etc.), while failure can be more comfortable, as they popularly say: “better known bad than good to know.” Success implies a new status, therefore greater responsibility and seriousness, for work, greater stress for the athlete is the responsibility of proving again that he is good or the best, with others trying to beat the champion. Many times it is easier to stay at the same level to maintain homeostasis (balance), and stay in the place where you are, because it feels comfortable, and simply feel that it is the place that corresponds to them out of comfort and / or habit. This has its explanation in unconscious roots, although it can also be due to more conscious aspects. It is when the person expects to fail and does everything possible unconsciously for this to happen, then he sets impossible goals, which will confirm his belief that he was going to fail, confirming the self-fulfilling prophecy, generating and ratifying his failure record because it is more comfortable for him. him staying as he is instead of changing, would be the secondary gain of failure (to get affection, pity, care, conceit, protection, etc.). There is nothing safer to fulfill a self-fulfilling prophecy than setting impossible goals, it is the best way to sabotage yourself, something more common than is believed in sports, the fear of success.


The subject of discipline is very important. Unexcused absences from training and / or games should not be tolerated. There are no good athletes and / or professionals without discipline. Discipline goes hand in hand with perseverance in training, with the effort and desire to keep going, and of course, with the motivation that must be intrinsic (internal). Therefore, discipline is also related to competitiveness. Each one meshes with the other and they form deeper and more complex aspects of the person’s life, to form the mind of an athlete to lead them to success.

It is also important to establish limits to train children who are developing, the absence of limits can generate or originate psychopaths (being extremists but it happens and is not so rare), for example: a psychopathic personality structure with adequate limits and Norms in the development can be contained avoiding the development of this biological tendency, if they had worked in this way in minors within Peruvian soccer, several unpleasant cases of psychopaths in soccer would have been avoided and good prospects of soccer players would not have been lost, thus contributing to the person and society

In October 2005, after a match in the German Cup, the Bayern Munich coach was not happy with the performance of his team, so he decided that the squad would train from 3:30 to 5:00 in the morning. This having a first-rate squad such as: Oliver Kahn, Jen Jeremies, Michael Ballack (German teams and 2002 world runners-up), Martín Demichelis (Argentine team), Bixente Lizarazu (French team and world champion in 1998), Lucio, Zé Roberto (Brazilian selected and 2002 world champions), Roy Maakay (Dutch selected), Roque Santa Cruz (Paraguayan selected), Claudio Pizarro and Paolo Guerrero (Peruvian selected). This indicates the importance of discipline and how they have internalized this so much, this world-class team respects and accepts the leadership of the leader. That in Peruvian football would have been impossible to do, the players would have made the “little bed” for the coach, as has happened so many times when a little more was demanded of them than they were used to. 


The contribution of parents is always important for the sports training of their children, as long as they do not intend to take the place of the coach, giving instructions to their child, only managing to confuse him. Dads should encourage and support their children, not give directions. Parents can contribute as follows:

  •  Take care of the diet of your children: balanced snack for school and especially for physical education and sports classes, with adequate hydration (no soft drinks, no coffee or energy drinks), water and / or rehydrating drinks.
  • Encourage consistently (always positively).
  • Provide unconditional support to your children (do not recriminate for losses), both before and after sports competitions.
  • Emphasize, reinforce and ask for effort, but not results.
  • Do not pressure them to specialize in a single sport, the practice of several sports benefits the little one. The sports vocation should be consolidated at approximately 16 years of age. Roger Federer (current number 1 of the ATP men’s tennis surgeon) played hockey and soccer and was in a serious vocational doubt about whether to pursue a career as a footballer or tennis player, luckily for tennis lovers he decided on the latter. Sofía Mulanovich (world champion of the women’s surfboard of the ASP and world runner-up 2005) plays tennis, Serena Williams (former number of the women’s ATP women’s tennis circuit) practices, also soccer and basketball.
  •                                 Ask if he had fun or if he improved his technique, and in no way should the classic and archaic question be asked, which minimizes all the effort that the little one may have made: did you win or lose? And if he lost, but have you scored a goal? As if the latter changed the result of the match somewhat. What the latter does is promote selfish individualism, undermining the work of group cohesion that is being carried out.

It is important that parents do not weaken or even eliminate the intrinsic (internal) motivation of young athletes. This motivation is what is sought, it cannot be given or imposed by force. This motivation is rewarded and fueled by the athlete’s performance, the achievements and joys that the activity itself produces when performing it and by obtaining the results, objectives and / or goals for which they have been working.

External reinforcers will gradually undermine this inner strength of the athlete. By external reinforcers we mean prizes or rewards, economic and / or material. The best thing that can be done to continue fueling that “inner fire” of the athlete is to congratulate them on their performance. This can be much more rewarding and stimulating for the little one than material things.


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