Why is Train Hard a non-competitive organisation?

Why is Train Hard a non-competitive organisation?

Why is Train Hard a non-competitive organisation?


Throughout childhood, we are constantly bombarded with the idea of competitive sports; beating other people in team and individual activities; and the idea of self-worth or value is often linked to “being the best” or placing on a podium. 


We created Train Hard Parkour to be a safe haven away from the concept of competition because we felt, and still feel, that it is hugely important for people (especially young people) to have a place where it literally is “the taking part that counts”. A place where the trying is what is celebrated; not merely the outcome.


We are often asked by parents about our sessions and why we don’t have a “beginner, intermediate, advanced” breakdown to our classes. Here is the answer:


We feel that it is beneficial for people of all different abilities to interact together, help one another, and to create an atmosphere of camaraderie, rather than a hierarchy of “I’m more skilled than you are and in a better group”. Of course, some people are more skilled in their ability to move their bodies over things, either because of time of practice, body type, genetics etc. We are not denying that, we are simply saying that just because someone is more physically able they do not get more attention from coaches or better opportunities.


We praise effort, tenacity, perseverance, and whatever progress is made.


We pride ourselves on being an inclusive practice where we celebrate one another’s achievements and we support each other to reach their goals.


Are we against competition? Good question. My personal feeling is that parkour has way more to offer than competition. I also think that when competing becomes the goal, the biggest aspects of parkour are potentially neglected and that is a crying shame. A good quote from Rafe Kelly’s recent interview with Jordan Peterson discussing parkour says: 


“…it’s also useful to point out that you don’t want to allow the practice to become an end in itself. I mean, the purpose of becoming great at basketball isn’t to become great at basketball, it’s to become great at being a human being and that’s going to involve a lot of teamwork and a lot of coaching and a lot of mentoring and a lot of fair play and and you know, maybe attention to the structure of the sport itself, all of that, but exactly, you don’t want to make your discipline a dead end.”


“…all the practices you’re describing [parkour] are undertaken in the spirit of voluntary challenge and so while you’re becoming better at each skill you’re also becoming better at manifesting the spirit of voluntary challenge.”


This really resonated with me.


Competition and competitive sports have their role and can and do instil positive things into people, however, it’s my view that people (especially young people) are already exposed to this hugely throughout school and other sports clubs. They get this almost everywhere else. We would like to be one of the few places that doesn’t value competition or “who is best/better”.


Do we want people to become more skilled? Of course. We want to help people to move better.


Not better than another person, particularly, arbitrarily judged by whoever, but we want them to simply move better than they did before. We want to build them up, constantly building self-esteem and self-worth as well as building their physical literacy and mental fortitude.


We have had coaches and students who have gone on to compete in various parkour competitions. They’re absolutely free to do as they please and we’d never hinder anyone who wanted to try or do those things. Hell, I even did Red Bull Art of Motion to see what it was like (I hated it by the way). The difference I am seeing is that when Max, Luke etc. went and competed in these competitions, they were already firmly rooted in a healthy parkour ethos. Their objective for getting into parkour and continuing to practise parkour was not to win medals, beat other people, and get on the podium. Their objective was to improve themselves to such a degree that they moved brilliantly.


This is what scares me when I see other coaching organisations going the gymnastics/cheer route of “squads” or “try-outs” for a competitive team, especially when it’s geared to 6-9 and 10-13 year olds.


Train Hard Parkour will always be a place where anyone is welcome to learn how to move better. There will never be pressure to compete and we will always value every individual’s progression, regardless of what that looks like.