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The importance of competing from an early age

Competition is important but a performance-oriented mindset is needed

Competition is definitely important but players, parents, and coaches sometimes become obsessed with competition and rankings from an early age. That is why the question arises: Is competition important from an early age?

Our answer is yes, but taking a few things into account. Competition is important because in the end, sport and tennis are all about competition, but when we talk about young players we need to understand that they are in formation. Competition at a young age must be used as a training process where young players can train what they practice in a real match situation, learn to deal with thoughts and feelings of competition, and play with different players. It is key to not give importance to rankings and results from an early age.

The focus must be performance-oriented not results-oriented, this means that we need to teach young players that competition is testing their performance technical, tactically, physically, and mentally but it is not a test based on the result. The result is the product of the performance but the result must not be the focal point of the player neither parents nor coaches.

A performance-oriented mindset makes winning or losing pass to a second plane, a player can have a great performance losing or a bad performance winning, the environment around young players must be focused on their performance, and that way, they will learn to critically analyze the competition.

It is more important to develop a kid as a player that winning tournaments.

It is also important to teach young players that results and rankings are not the priority at those ages, because competition already creates enough pressure for a player to be focusing on the rankings or results and adds more pressure during an age that we need the player to be in a learning process.

Taking this into account, competition is definitely important for a player, and starting to compete from an early age is essential for the player to train and develop. Competition is the exam of one´s abilities but it also allows kids to compare themselves and their level with other kids. Competition must be progressive, kids should start competing in a very fun environment in their club or local tournaments with friends and build up through those tournaments. As years pass the own competition will provide a competitive environment, and young players will have plenty of time to compete, travel and play bigger tournaments.

That is why, having into account that competition is important for the development of a player, we need to understand that it should not be the priority at young ages, and relativizing results by having a performance-oriented mindset is extremely important.

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