How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

Do you compare yourself to other players? Learn a strategy you can use to stop comparing yourself as an athlete.

Are you too focused on the competition? Do you spend a lot of time thinking about your skills compared to your teammates skills, or even your siblings skills?

When you compare yourself to others, this serves as a huge distraction to you. Especially if this happens during competition.

And so, in this article, we’re going to go over why comparing yourself to others holds you back, and a strategy you can apply to stop comparing yourself to other people as an athlete.

The Dangers of Comparing Yourself to Other Players

There are two main reasons comparing yourself to others holds you back: it limits your confidence, and it distracts you during competition.

Let’s start with how comparing yourself to others limits your confidence.

Comparing Yourself to Others Limits Confidence

When you compare, is this normally coming from a place of high trust in yourself? Or, are you comparing from a point of self-doubt?

If you were fully trusting in yourself during competition, there wouldn’t be the need to compare. This shows an initial lack of trust in yourself and your skills.

But it’s really the effect comparing yourself to other players has on your mind that truly limits your confidence.

To build confidence as an athlete, you need a combination of experience and reflection. It’s difficult to build confidence without the experience of seeing yourself play well.

But that experience won’t be of much use if you fail to reflect on the things you did well and your strengths as a player.

It’s that last part, reflecting on your strengths, that captures the limit comparing yourself to others places on confidence.

When you compare, this is usually done from a place of feeling less than other people. If you honestly knew you had high level skills, what need would there be to compare yourself?

The more you compare yourself to other players, the less attention you are giving to your strengths and the reasons you have to be confident. Also, the more easily it will be for you to feel less than as a player.

In addition to limiting your confidence, comparing yourself to others also distracts you during competition. And the more distracted you are the less chance there is of building that memory of success.

Comparing is a Huge Distraction

Think of your focus like a circle. When you play your best, is it a small circle or a big circle. It’s a small circle, since playing your best requires you to be fully focused on yourself and what you’re doing in the present moment.

As you compare yourself to others, however, your circle grows. Expanding larger and larger, until your focus is pulled in all different directions; taken away from the main place it needs to be – on yourself.

Focus is a key factor to peak performance. But focus can also be a major contributor to poor performance if improperly managed.

I was talking to an athlete this past week on the difference between his performance in practice and games. He’s doing great in training right now and frustrated with the lack of translation come game time.

As we talked, something became clear: in training, he is fully focused on himself. In competition, his attention is controlled by his habit of comparing himself to others.

Do you see the major difference? Is this something you’ve noticed in yourself?

The reason this wide circle of attention lowers performance is because you are no longer focused on yourself and your game.

For the athlete I mentioned, he began comparing his mechanics to the mechanics of his competitors. This took him out of his game.

For yourself, whether it’s mechanics you’re focused on, stats, or anything else, when you compare yourself to others, you take your attention off yourself and the things that help you play your best.

Knowing this, how can you narrow that circle, bringing your attention back onto yourself during competition?

Strategy to Stop Comparing Yourself to Other Players

To narrow your circle, you must work to keep your attention focused on yourself, rather than other competitors.

Now, I know that’s what you’re trying to do, and it’s honestly not always the easiest thing to do. But, with the strategy outlined below, you can begin working to let go of the need to compare, and bring your focus more on yourself while competing.

Play Your Game

A big reason comparing yourself to others lowers your performance is because it takes you out of your game.

When you compare, you aren’t as focused on your strategy, game plan, and strengths that will give you the best chance of succeeding.

To counteract this negative impact, you want to focus on playing your game. But what exactly does that mean?

To me, playing your game means you focus on your strengths and play to them. You don’t try to be someone you’re not.

For example, if you’re a singles hitter in baseball, don’t compare your swing to the power hitter on your team. He has his game and you have yours. Both are valuable to the team…if you each focus on your own strengths.

Another example is a basketball player who likes to keep things simple. She doesn’t have a lot of fancy ball handling moves, but is effective at playing point guard.

She shouldn’t compare herself to the flashy point guard on the other team. She needs to focus on playing her game. The goal is to be effective and get the job done. How you do so is up to you.

Identify an Objective

During a game, when you notice yourself comparing your game to those around you, your job is to refocus your attention onto yourself.

But what exactly should you think about?

Well, what you want to think about is a simple objective that will redirect your focus and help you play your best.

Objectives are targets or cues that are part of the process of your game. A key aspect of objectives is that they are 100% within your control. And that’s another important part of not comparing yourself.

You want to focus on what you can control. And when you compare yourself to other players, you are thinking about something that’s out of your control.

To help identify a good objective for yourself, begin with a good performance. This can be the outcome you want to get by the end of the competition.

Then backtrack, thinking about what needs to happen for you to get there. Backtrack once again, and then once again, until you’ve landed on the simplest objective that will put you on the right path towards the success you want.

Then, your job is to focus on that objective. And whenever you notice yourself comparing your game to others, return your attention onto the objective.

Evaluate Your Game & Your Game Only

The last part of the strategy takes place following the competition.

Earlier we talked about the impact comparing has on your confidence. I said that when you compare, you lose sight of your strengths and what you did well. This part helps keep that from happening.

When the game is finished, you want to evaluate how you do with two goals in mind: building your confidence and improving as a player. Neither of which require you to compare yourself to others.

What you can do first is examine the positives of your performance. This is fuel for your confidence.

Once you’ve identified the positives, then you can think about any mistakes or areas that need work. But do not think about them in a self-critical way. Simply look at them as a way to learn and improve.

The main idea behind this evaluation process is to get you focusing more on yourself, instead of comparing your game to others.

Final Thoughts

It’s easy to compare yourself to other athletes, since sports are a competitive environment. You want to be better than everyone else, so comparing comes naturally.

However, comparing yourself to others only limits your confidence and lowers your performance during competition. Instead, you want to keep your attention focused on yourself.

To help, make sure you play your game, set a simple objective to narrow your focus, and evaluate yourself after a competition instead of comparing yourself to others.

Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of success in all that you do.

Contact Success Starts Within Today

Please contact us to learn more about mental coaching and to see how it can improve your mental game and increase your performance. Complete the form below, call (252)-371-1602 or schedule an introductory coaching call here.

Eli Straw

Eli is a sport psychology consultant and mental game coach who works 1-1 with athletes to help them improve their mental skills and overcome any mental barriers keeping them from performing their best. He has an M.S. in psychology and his mission is to help athletes and performers reach their goals through the use of sport psychology & mental training.

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The Mentally Tough Kid course will teach your young athlete tools & techniques to increase self-confidence, improve focus, manage mistakes, increase motivation, and build mental toughness.

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