Remember when you began training a sport ? Were you successful from the very start or were there difficult moments because others were winning?
When I was little, I started with judo. I was 6 years old. I wasn’t even going to school yet but the gym was right across from the building where I lived. My parents thought it would be a good idea for me to learn how to fall. I’m not sure whether they unconsciously thought about falling figuratively as well, but it was certainly helpful.
I remember when I walked into the dressing room, everyone asked me something. There were a lot of boys there and they were all much older than me, all speaking and yelling at me at the same time. I was so scared of them that I just left my things and ran back home crying.
After a few months, I started going to school and again began training judo, learning to fall in a variety of ways (barrel fall is still my favourite ☺).
All my life I’ve had a lot of weight, and in judo the competition categories are organised per kilogram. So I had to fight in competition against boys who were 3 years older than me (and who had the same weight as me). They were green or brown belts in judo, so my little yellow belt could not compete against them, losing the match after two minutes. Each time, my dream of success in the competition would be scattered like a soap bubble.
That was the first time I realized that there are boys that are better than me in judo.
I was disappointed because I was really practicing hard. But others were also practicing a lot and were better than me. From my judo times, the skill of how to fall properly still remains.
There will always be someone who is better than you at something. The sooner you realize this the easier it will be for you. That should be your motivation to put in even more effort and practice harder. To become better tomorrow than you are today. Basically, it is about how we personally become better.
We can only change and fix ourselves.
My daughter Sofia is now almost eight years old, and trains gymnastics. The theory states that the basic sports for kids are athletics, gymnastics and swimming. Children should first learn basic motor skills, a sense of balance, coordination .I am aware that the chances of her becoming a high-class gymnast are low, her constitution is such that she is sturdy and tall for her age. She is however, very devoted and she has made great progress in a year and a half. In the beginning she could not raise herself into the bridge. Now she even knows how to move back and forth while her body is in the bridge position. I’m proud of her.
For the gymnastic competition that they are preparing for, they put her in the first row (in gymnastics this is a sign that you’re good). In the last practice they returned her back to the second row because a new girl joined the group. That new girl is better than her at gymnastics. Sophie was sad all day, because being in the first row was a biiiig thing for her. She is aware that the new girl is better. It’s hard when you first realize that there are those who are better than you. It hurts.
It’s up to you to choose what you will do once you’ve realised this.
Some people choose to do more and harder practice.
Some people change sport and find themselves in another sporting discipline in which they are more successful.
Some people give up.
Some do not do anything, the just keep quiet and be mad at the world.
Which are you?
If we adopt the idea that in sport the only good and valid comparison you can make is a comparison with yourself, then your progress will be more streamlined and faster. The point of practicing is that you’re better today than yesterday, compared to yourself. In order to improve and develop your skills, be they technical, tactical or of course, mental.
You may have heard stories of someone who was amongst the best in junior competition, moved up to the seniors and just fell off the sporting map. He did not make a career, just vanished in the crowd.
This often happens because many athletes rely on comparisons with others at one moment of their career, and time flows. Every game, match or race is a new evaluation and comparison. What was true yesterday may no longer be true today.
Allow yourself to look back at yourself 5 years ago. Where have you improved in comparison to 5 years ago? Where are you worse than before? Where have you progressed? Where do you still have room for improvement?