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Major Types of Competition

by Ron Kurtus (revised 3 May 2015)

A competition is a contest where two or more people or organizations vie for a prize or reward. The major types of competition are performance, head-to-head, and predatory competitions.

In the performance competition, each competitor is judged on how well he or she does. Knowledge of opponents can affect the performance. In a head-to-head competition, each goes on both offense and defense, trying to score points while deterring the opponent.

In a predatory competition, one side attacks, while the other tries to stave off the attack.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions.

Performance competition

A performance competition is where the performance of the contestants is the criteria for winning or losing. Each is only trying to do his or her best.

A pure performance competition is where contestants have no knowledge or a minimal amount of knowledge about their opponents. In an affected competition, contestants may know the reputation and performance of the opponents.

Pure performance

In a pure performance competition, you may know that there are other competitors, but you have little or no knowledge about them or how well they have done. Judges or some criterion is used to determine the winner. This could also be called a blind competition.

Examples include competing for:

When you apply for a job, you usually have no idea who else is applying for that position. Your qualifications and performance during the job interview is judged by the hiring manager, determining who is best in this competition and who is declared the winner.

Another example of this type of competition is when you take an exam for entry into college. You may know some other people taking the exam, but they have no influence on the outcome of your effort. Your acceptance will be determined by your performance in the exam, as compared to however else takes the test.

Affected performance

In the affected performance competition, your knowledge of your opponents and how well they are doing can affect your performance. Knowledge of the reputation and conditioning of your opponents can affect your confidence and even effort. But also, seeing how the opponent is doing can result in trying harder or simply giving up.

Knowledge of the opponent is an important factor in this type of competition. Controlling the opponent's knowledge of your reputation and performance is a major strategy used in trying to win.

Examples include competing in:

In a foot race, you may give an extra effort if you see your opponent slightly ahead of you. But also, if you are far behind, you may become discouraged and give up.

When a business sees that the competition is having a sale, they will either increase their advertising or have a sale themselves to try to get in the lead in the competition.

Head-to-head competition

In head-to-head competitions, you not only want to perform well, but you also try to prevent your opponents from performing or scoring points. Both offense and defense are used.

Often this type of competition matches two people or teams against each other. Examples include:

There are also situations where several competitors not only try to score points but also try to deter the opponents. A common competition of that type is a political election primary, where several candidates are running for the office. They will not only build up their own voter appeal, but they also point out negative features of the various other candidates.

Predatory competition

In a predatory competition, one person, group or country attacks another or tries to get what belongs to the other. This is where the strong take from the weak.

Usually, one side is on the offense, while the other is only on the defense. Sometimes, who can perform the best determines whether the predator wins or the victim gets away. But also, predatory competition can turn into a head-on-head competition and even result in the predator being defeated.

Seeking prey

For example, a fox may want to eat the rabbit, so they compete to see which can run the fastest. If the fox wins, it gets the meal it wanted. If the rabbit wins, it gets away with its life.


A robber is competing for the money of another person. This is a predatory or unprovoked competition. The robber is on the offense and the person or victim may go on the defensive, trying to protect his property or safety.


A bully will try to take something he wants from a weaker person. The victim will either give in or try to fight back. But if the victim is stronger than the bully thought, the fight may turn into a head-to-head battle. If the victim wins, he will keep his belongings, but the bully may also lose by getting beat up.

Unprovoked war

War is a competition for the control of land and government. In World War II, Germany declared war on various nations, overrunning many of them. Finally other countries, capable of fighting back declared war on Germany, turning unilateral competitions into head-to-head competitions.


In the performance competition, each competitor is judged on how well he or she does. Knowledge of opponents can affect the performance. In a head-to-head competition, each goes on both offense and defense. In a predatory competition, one side attacks, while the other tries to stave off the attack.

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