Looking at the above picture, you may wonder why I chose it. The majority of hoopers wouldn't ever dream of being able to compete with them, right? You have to train your life away from the time you are born. However, they are extremely inspiring and make us think about our skills.
The question remains: is competition good or bad in hooping? Is it motivating to those who want to get better or is it just discouraging to those who aren't as confident?
If you're a beginner or intermediate hooper, you're likely to say "No! Competition is terrible and discouraging!". That is how I felt when I was in my first years of this wonderful activity. Now that I have gained experience and wisdom over the years, I am starting to feel that competition is good for hoopers, helping them to reach their goals and get better than they would be otherwise. Every time I feel a sense of competition that makes me feel uneasy, I realize the only healthy way to deal with it is to step up my game and get on another level, a more unique level or a higher level.
Many people will experience envy, jealousy or feel threatened in response to their sense of competition with others. Hooping is super sensitive because of how extremely passionate everyone can be about it. It is "their calling" or "their dream". They can have a sense of ownership over it and sometimes struggle to share. If they deal with it in an unhealthy way, competition can destroy them and destroy their relationships. It can make them turn sour towards anyone who experiences success and create hatred. It can turn very ugly, very fast.
A jealous hooper used to be one of my best friends. She had been hooping years before me and said some of the most hurtful things to me before our friendship ended. This was due to her perception that I "stole her dream" by performing and teaching before she got the chance to. Even though I didn't know it was something she planned to do and she had never spoke of it before then.
SEE ALSO: How to be a Good Friend to Hoopers
I have experienced feelings of envy, jealousy and insecurity over my hooping. Especially my hooping performance and class businesses. However, I feel that these experiences have helped me get where I am today. They prevented me from leaving well enough alone. They helped me grow my skills and improve my talents. They pushed me to always freshen my flow and keep people coming back for more, to see what else I have learned. If I was always ahead, I would have no reason to learn something new. I would have gotten lazy.
Rachael Lust approached me to write this article and I was happy to help. She feels that it is a good idea to open hoopers' minds about this topic and get them thinking.
Rachael says: From the time I started hooping I’ve always heard hoopers say “It’s not a competition. Nobody is better than anyone else.” While I can respect their opinion, I never felt the same way and for the longest time I felt ashamed that I wanted to be the best because the idea that you shouldn’t try to be better than the next person was constantly being said within the community. Eventually I got to the point where I felt comfortable enough to say, “You know what? I do want to be the best and there’s nothing wrong with that.” When I finally got the courage to speak out, I felt attacked by hoopers telling me I needed to lose my ego and that I wasn’t even that good. That didn’t sit well with me and here’s why:
By saying that I want to be the best is in no way implying that I AM the best. In fact, I realize I will probably never be “the best” because there are so many different things to compare. Even if my isolations were perfect and my breaks super clean, someone could come along with doubles or quads and blow me away.
Also, by saying that someone is “the best” doesn’t mean they are a better person than anyone else just that they are a better hooper. When I hear hoopers say that someone can’t be better at hooping because hooping is an art and art can’t be compared doesn’t make sense to me. I will argue that Brecken’s barrel rolls and Dustin Hubel’s isolations are probably way better than the newbie hooper that just learned them a few weeks ago.
I don’t feel that someone should be shamed for wanting to reach their maximum potential as long as they are a good sport about it. Now if you have jealousy and are hateful to hoopers that are better than you, then that’s not ok. Or if you act full of yourself and conceited when your skills are stronger than those of other hoopers, that’s not ok either. But if you can use competitiveness in a healthy way to push yourself to be better, then I personally don’t see anything wrong with that.
Let’s look back at Hooping Idol for example. Some hoopers were having fits because hooping.org was bringing competition into it. But if you followed closely to what was going on behind the scenes, you saw nothing but friendly competition amongst the competitors. They were constantly cheering each other on and happy for one another for doing well. Everyone involved in the process improved greatly in those few weeks.
My final thoughts on competitiveness are this: If you don’t want to compete, then don’t. Me wanting to be the best hooper shouldn’t take away from your enjoyment. If you are competitive and are constantly wanting to push yourself to be better just make sure that you are a good sport about it.
Rachael's thoughts on the topic were full of passion and importance. Here are my final thoughts:
If no hoopers are better than any other hoopers, perhaps we would not idolize or become inspired by those who are able to make our minds melt with their skills. Perhaps our accountability and motivation would disappear and we would not be able to eventually become our own idols. If I had not had the sense of competition and had "better" hoopers to inspire me to help me get better, I never would have amazed myself in all that I have learned to do over the past 3.5 years. If you're afraid of competition, ask yourself if you are simply uncomfortable with feeling accountable for your lack of practice. Even if it isn't your fault and life gets in the way, there is no excuse for treating others badly for having the time or motivation to be great at it.
Join the conversation, is competition just really bad in hooping, or is there a way to compete in a healthy way and benefit others in the process?