Competing vs Competitive Excellence

“There is a difference between competing and competitive excellence. Competing is a combination of effort and investment, and it shows in how hard you play. It’s bringing it every day and genuinely caring about the result for your team. Competitive excellence is not only competing at a high level and caring about the result, but it’s handling the level of intensity the right way.

Think about when you watch players or teams play. You can generally tell that certain players or teams really want to win. They are playing hard and they are mentally invested. They care about what happens on both ends of the floor, and it’s obvious in their actions. If something doesn’t go their way, they respond by going harder. You can see how much they care when you watch them play.

But that competitiveness doesn’t always result in the best behavior. Sometimes a competitor gets down on himself because the ball isn’t going in or things don’t go their way. You can tell they care, that they want to win, but it manifests itself in negative behavior. They get frustrated with themselves. They curse loudly because they are upset. They bang the pad on the basket after they miss a lay-up. The positive is that it usually means they do care. It matters to them. But the negative is the way they are handling it. Is their behavior helping them get over the hump when they are struggling? Or is it just negativity that is making them worse.

Competitive excellence results from handling all of the things that go along with competing at a high level. It’s being able to control yourself and excel in an intense environment. Often times we use competing as an excuse for bad behavior – when someone overreacts emotionally or gets called for a technical foul and we say “Well, he’s really competitive, he really wants to win.” But great competitors should be exhibiting good behavior. Handling all that goes along with competing is competitive excellence.” – Bob Walsh.