Comparing yourself to others as an athlete is inevitable. It’s too easy in sports; there are always ranks, numbers and stats to analyze. However, instead of helping you improve, comparing yourself to others can actually do the opposite. It reduces self esteem and confidence, likely lowering performance.
How do I avoid comparing myself to other athletes?
1. Remember that everyone is on a different journey
Everyone has a different starting point and different resources, so it is impossible to accurately compare yourself to people with different circumstances. Even identical twins are not the same! Don’t dwell on things you can’t change; focus on factors you can control. If you started a sport late, put in extra time to improve. If you are injured, work on PT daily. If you struggle with a specific skill, practice it after practice.
2. Celebrate how you are unique
No one is the same; we all have different bodies, skills, talents, motivation, personality traits and experiences. Everyone brings something special to the table. Celebrate this! Instead of denouncing your differences, put a positive spin on them. For example, being muscular doesn’t make you bulky, it makes you strong so you can play your sport!
3. Focus on improving yourself
Instead of comparing yourself to other athletes, focus on making yourself better. Compare yourself to past versions of yourself, and use this to think about how you want to improve in the future. Make this your motivation. Perhaps you can think of three goals to execute everyday before practice or about three ways you’ve improved.
4. Think about how far you have already come
It is so much more valuable to focus on progress than perfection as an athlete. Focus on everything you have already accomplished and unmeasurable qualities instead of what you may be lacking. This will boost your confidence! Here are some ideas: attitude, skills, progress, relationships, memories, etc.
5. Document your success
Write down some things you are proud of or love about yourself in a jar or diary. Reference this when your self esteem is low! Practicing gratitude and honoring yourself will make you more thankful for what you already have, and seeing your successes and improvements may boost your self esteem.
6. Use social media to connect
Social media is a highlight reel; perfection is an illusion! You don’t see what lies behind the scenes, like injuries, breakups, family problems, mental health, etc. Use these platforms to build relationships and learn, opposed to comparing yourself to impossible standards. You may find another athlete you connect with, or you may find a blog (like Resilient.her) you can learn from. Social media is a tool that should only enhance your life; if not, consider limiting it.
7. Study people you are envious of
Instead of using comparisons to drag yourself down, use them as motivation to improve! Focusing on others’ success while focusing on your flaws (real or perceived) will turn teammates and role models into enemies and opposition. Notice how people succeed and what you can use to become the best version of yourself. If someone else is one step ahead, take two.
There is a fine line between constructive and deconstructive comparisons. It is far more valuable to focus on your progress than catching up to others as an athlete. At the end of the day, sports should make you feel good- not drag you down.