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Preparing to Win a Competition

by Ron Kurtus (revised 15 June 2007)

You need to prepare before entering any competition.

It is assumed that you know the rules and requirements of the game and have the necessary skills to compete. Your preparation consists of getting in good condition for the contest, planning an overall strategy, and establishing the proper frame of mind.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions.

Be in condition

In any competition, whether it is playing soccer, playing chess or competing in business, you need to be in good physical and mental condition.

Physical condition

That means you have the physical strength and stamina to withstand a grueling battle. Although some competitions are over quickly, others can last for hours and even days.

Mental condition

Being in good physical condition improves the flow of blood and oxygen to your brain, helping you to be in good mental condition. You want to be able to think clearly and effectively.

Psychological condition

Another aspect of being in good mental condition can also be called emotional or psychological condition. Being exposed to demeaning, critical or toxic remarks from others (or even yourself) can lower your emotional health. You want to be in good psychological condition, so that you aren't burdened by negative thoughts and doubts.

Establish overall strategy

Your strategy is based on your knowledge of the opponent, as well as playing to your own strengths.

Knowledge of opponent

In order to establish an overall strategy for your competition, you should study your opponent to learn his strengths and weaknesses, as well as the previous strategies the person has used.

For example, in tennis you may see that your opponent has a weak backhand and likes to attack the net. She also has a strong serve. Offensively, you can attack the backhand and keep her away from the net. Defensively, you need to prepare for strong services and net attacks.

Often in strategy you can plan to use deception to trick your opponent into positions of weakness, or so you can attack in an unexpected area or time. Deception is also used on defense to enhance your ability to disrupt your opponent's attacks.

Playing to your strengths

Sometimes you may have little or no information about your opponent. In such a case, you establish a strategy that plays on your strengths and usual method of playing.

If you suspect the opponent has an idea of your usual routine, you might try a strategy of having a change of pace by doing something unexpected.

Establish your frame of mind

You must establish your readiness to perform. You need to be motivated to try to win. You must have confidence. You need good physical and mental energy. You must have focus on the contest. And you need to be determined to win.

Your knowledge of the opponent affects your frame of mind. In some cases, you may be highly motivated to win against someone you don't like. On the other hand, a powerful opponent may intimidate you, causing you to lose confidence.

Being distracted by personal problems or by criticism from others can cause you to lose focus and concentration on the contest.

These distractions and doubts need to be overcome, so that you have a positive frame of mind before entering your competition.


It is important to prepare before entering any competition. The first part of preparation is to get in good physical and mental condition for the contest. Then you need to plan an overall strategy, using knowledge of your opponent and your own strengths. Finally, you need to establish the proper frame of mind for the competition.

Prepare, prepare, prepare

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