Psychological Readiness for Competition
• For the competition to be meaningful, the young athlete must be able to conceptualize the competition from an opponent's perspective and engage in social comparison. This ability develops at about the age of 12.
• Prior to approximately age 12, children are not able to distinguish between effort and ability in explaining successes and failures.
• In trying to determine a young athlete's readiness for competition, assess if the athlete has the coping skills to deal with the demands and challenges inherent in the competitive environment. Some of these demands and challenges may include dealing with success and failure, managing time and energy at the competition, getting disqualified and performing in front of others. A young athlete who is found in tears after a race may not have the coping skills to deal with competition and is therefore not "ready" for competition. Coaches need to monitor how the young athlete copes with various situations in practice to determine if he/she has the coping skills to deal with the increased demands and challenges of competition.