Why Competing Is More Than Playing A Game

Playing smash in a competitive environment is so much more than just a game. You can learn life lessons and life skills through this game and community. The only thing standing in the way of people understanding this is that you can only learn these things when you take the game very seriously (I mean dedicating hours every day or week to improve, not just playing on the side). Similar to how rich people play tennis for fun or health may not see the merits or understand the complexities of tennis, spectators or casual players might not understand why smash is such an amazing thing. If you actually indulge yourself in the game instead of playing it on the side for fun, then you will learn that there’s so much about not only the different perspectives, mentalities, strategies, habits, and other things opponents have, but there’s also so much you can learn about yourself.

Personally, I have only been playing for a little over a year but I learned a lot of good and bad things about myself through the game. I have noticed these things and instead of accepting these aspects of myself for what they were, I took initiative to change what I didn’t like, or improve on what I did like, and noticed I began using smash as a means for self-growth. It seems silly to use a game as a means of self-improvement, but as you get more accustomed with the game and with yourself, it begins to make a lot more sense.

What about smash makes it a good avenue for self-improvement? In the same sense that any fighting game can be used in this way, the answer doesn’t lie in the game so much as it lies in the things that revolve around the game. Competition brings out your true self and really tests a lot of aspects of yourself as not only a competitor, but as a person. You can’t predict how you would react to a big win, or a big loss, or feeling the stress of a high tense situation, or the anxiety of a big upcoming match until you’re in the situation yourself. Competition puts you in these situations that you can’t guess how you’ll act until you’re actually put in the situation yourself time and time again, and really lets you understand who you are. I usually consider myself a level-headed person, but after my first big loss I threw a bit of a fit and wouldn’t talk to anyone for a good hour. After reflecting on that situation, I realized just how little I knew about myself, and just how much smash can really bring out in a person.

Competition made me improve on a lot of myself, to name a few: Concentration, patience, work ethic, staying calm under pressure, self-criticism, self-image, self-trust, living in the present, replacing negative thinking with positive thinking, being humble, accepting failure, and so much more. The exciting thing is that as you get better at the game, these skills are required to a higher degree and you need to constantly push yourself not only in-game, but in these aspects as well. These skills that you learn playing smash can be applied to almost anything you do in life.

At some point, you might stop getting good at these life skills to help you get good at smash, and instead get good at smash to help you get good at these life skills. This is when competing in smash becomes so much more than just playing a game.

Don’t focus on winning, focus on outplaying your opponent

Don’t focus on winning, focus on outplaying your opponent. While the difference between the two ideas seems insignificant, the change it has on your mindset is important.‌
Playing to win does have its merits when talking about work ethic or motivation, but in the middle of a set if you’re playing with that mentality, it could be a hindrance more than anything else. When you focus on winning, there are some things that are out of your control that may cause you to lose. You have to take into account the opponents skill level and effort they put into the game just as much as your own.
I’m sure most of us have also had those times mid-set where the thought of “Wow, I’m about to beat x player! All my friends will be so happy for me, this is amazing. I really hope I win!” or thoughts like “Oh no I’m about to really lose to y? I’ve never even lost to him! How is this happening? My friend is going to be so disappointed in me. The car ride home is going to suck and I’ll be so sour the entire way home.” The obvious problem we have with this mentality is that we’re putting all of our concentration on the past or the future and none of it is being used one the thing it should be used on, the present. As you see your win or loss begin to slip away because your mind is elsewhere, you tend to try too hard to force risky things and get antsy, and overall play worse because of it. The thing about playing to win is that it’s a single goal and when you get close to the outcome of either winning or losing, your mind begins thinking about the future that looks like is about to happen instead of focusing on the match at hand. This leads to a lot of choking, losses, and a lot of disappointment. You’re not better than your opponent if you lose because you choke, you choke because keeping calm under pressure is something you can’t do as well as your opponent, and that is just as important as any adaptation or tech skill that you see in game.
Focusing on outplaying your opponent on the other hand is something that can help combat this issue. The key about this mentality is that you’re focusing on the present, it’s a continuous process with a lot of thoughts about the game such as your opponent’s habits or thinking about how you’re going to mix up your next approach. Playing to outplay your opponent keeps your mind occupied with useful information that happens during every second of each game you play. Since your mind is so preoccupied with thoughts about the present, you don’t think about the future or past and begin to get flustered. This mindset helps you stay calm and focused during high tense situations that you would otherwise crumble under.
It’s through this mindset that you begin to see who deserves to win and who deserves to lose, you don’t concern yourself with the idea of winning, and you begin playing the game for the reason of improving and learning more than anything else.