My daughter recently participated in a three-legged race during the festive period. Though she wasn't too excited to put herself through the challenge, knowing her close friend would partner her through the race made her sign up. Before the race, she and this friend walked together with their legs tied across the neighbourhood. Of course, they were laughing and having fun. But more importantly, they were getting used to this way of walking.
This practice continued for an hour; the actual race lasted for 20 seconds. But that hour had made them habitual of putting their three legs work together in harmony. No doubt, they won the race. While other kids struggled to put their legs in sync, these girls walked with ease.
They had made the new way of walking a natural. Practice is known to do that. I agree with Paulo Coelho when he says, "To become really good at anything, you have to practice and repeat, practice and repeat until the technique becomes intuitive." With practice, you fight the competition by not fighting it but by internalizing the rules. Even in life, you can get bogged down by the many curveballs that life hurls at you or decide to internalize the rules. The choice is individual.
Longer rallies in racquet sports tend to have a slightly different effect. For instance, my friends and I are incredibly competitive whenever we play a game of badminton. We want to win a point against the folks on the other side of the net as quickly as we can. So our rallies are usually short. But every time a rally lasts long, we subconsciously stop playing against one another - instead, we start to play together against the shuttlecock. So, we invariably want the rally to last even longer.
Isn't it funny how a situation at a point turns the very rules of the game on its head? How your competitor momentarily changes mid-match when it is competitor no more?