“You’ll never be the best at anything. The world is a big place with millions of people; it’s impossible to be the best. Just do your best, and you’ll be fine.”
We often get encouraged not to compare ourselves to others, or to compare someone to somebody else. We understand that individuals are exactly that... individual. Yet something in our make-up as humans always brings as back to this critical thinking.
As Gymnastic Coaches we all too often see children in our classes compare themselves to other gymnasts in their group. Before even trying an activity, they have already made a judgement of their own ability and their skill expectations... set entirely around another class mate's skill attempt.
As Coaches it is our job to set an environment that encourages safe risk taking and nurtures ALL attempts. Regardless of the outcome, technique, form or ability level. Every achievement... is a GREAT achievement no matter how small! The trouble is getting our young gymnast to understand this.
From the perspective of a child it can be extremely frustrating when you are not as "capable" as another student. As adults we can understand there are other determining factors that may determine why an individual might be progressing at a faster rate. They could be involved in a multitude of sports and after school activities. They might train more than once in a week. They may of been training for years before you even started! As a child none of this information is relevant or even thought about. All they can understand is what they are witnessing right in front of them. Someone is "better" than them, and it's not fair.
As adults its our role to help model a healthy way to deal with self criticism, comparison and critique. If around the home you are comparing things or people, they will take on this behavior as well. If you vocalize how one footy player for example is better than another due to X,Y,Z. Then there is a good chance that your little "information sponge", by that I mean your child, will notice that the better performing sportsman gets the higher praise while the other gets critiqued.
I know there are going to be times when comparison is going to be helpful and help keep a gymnast motivated and goal orientated! The issue there, is finding the line between inspired & obsessive. I have witnessed gymnasts who are brand new to the sport and have this ultimate will power to keep pushing themselves until they are impressive little tumbling machines. I have also seen older gymnast who see a brand new gymnast with all this motivation, and get disheartened because this new athlete is somehow gaining up to their ability level uncomfortably quick.
My point being comparison is not inherently evil or bad. It is the behaviors following the comparison that will determine if this mind set is healthy or not. As adults we need to be aware of what these behaviors look like and how we can prevent them from becoming destructive.
Signing off for now,