Mindful Competitiveness at Charlotte Rise FC: We See You, We Hear You!



Mindful Competitiveness at Charlotte Rise FC We See You,We Hear You!


Reflecting on the notion that the difference between a great player and an exceptional one isn’t merely drive or effort but an innate competitiveness, it’s evident that this trait is crucial. While the sporting world celebrates super-elite athletes like Michael Jordan, who seemingly transcended the need for competitive environments due to their innate drive, the reality is that even Jordan benefited from coaches like Phil Jackson and Dean Smith, who fostered competitive environments conducive to his development. He had two of the greatest coaches in basketball history from age 18 and on.

This insight prompts a broader discussion on the necessity of creating environments that nurture competitiveness from a young age, questioning whether the decline in competitive spirit observed in youth soccer players by the age of 12 is a result of systemic issues rather than a natural waning of the innate drive.

Kevin De Bruyne, Pete Sampras, Tom Brady, Kawhi Leonard, Lionel Messi, Tim Duncan, Ashleigh Barty, and Nikola Jokić are the greatest of all time in their respective sports. Ultra-competitive as we see them as adults, but what would this group of slightly less outspoken superstars feel about this topic? How did these stars view this issue as they grew in stature? This realization underscores the importance of creating Charlotte Rise FC, where youth soccer players can nurture their competitive spirit from an early age.

Soccer mindful competitiveness

Kids Just Run

Let’s start with a simple scenario. The call goes out. Kids line up, toes on the line, let’s race from this line to that fence. Universally, in all age groups and among all levels of athletes, the kids are competitive as they take their places at the line. They all want to win. It does not matter if the race is on the playground, in gym class, or on the track. Everyone wants to run and win. Some start to inch past the starting line. A few will start too early. Just watch what happens if we add a finish line of string, a stopwatch, and a clipboard. 

To say the least, at every age, these kids, all kids, are competitive. Where does this competitive nature go for so many in supposedly competitive soccer? How many times have your kids traveled to some faraway city for a game where the parents seem more competitive than the players after the game? Why is this? Is there no rivalry? The mechanics of the game are the same. Are the same players playing all the minutes? Maybe just too many games? Is it just another in a never-ending schedule? 

This is where CRFC soccer seasons, such as the rising star soccer spring season, and camps like the spring and summer camps come in. They are designed to cultivate a healthy competitive spirit. We ensure that competition is purposeful and that every player feels valued and involved.

A Different Way at Charlotte Rise FC: Mindful Competition

In the landscape of youth sports, particularly soccer, a traditional model has long prevailed, characterized by a reliance on a select group of core players. This model prioritizes stability and conformity, often at the expense of fostering a truly competitive spirit. Such an approach not only stifles the natural drive of young athletes to excel but also limits the team’s overall potential. At Charlotte Rise FC, we propose a transformative model that places competition at its core, named after a philosophy we call ‘mindful competition.

Mindful competition is about nurturing a culture where every player is encouraged to challenge themselves and their teammates in a supportive, constructive environment. This approach contrasts sharply with the conventional wisdom that prioritizes keeping the peace over sparking the kind of healthy competition that drives improvement. Traditionally, teams have been structured around a small group of standout players, with the rest relegated to peripheral roles, creating an environment where the incentive to push boundaries and excel is diminished. Our mission at Charlotte Rise is to dismantle this outdated paradigm, ensuring competition is both fair and fun, and where every effort is recognized and rewarded.  

At Charlotte Rise, we are committed to a transformative approach that redefines competition, urging every player to strive for excellence and challenge the prevailing equilibrium. We recognize all players and kids are naturally competitive and, under proper guidance and leadership, our club and teams can flourish, instituting mindful competition tactics. Mindful competition represents the core DNA of our club and coaches. This approach of soccer mindful competition requires more time, effort, and communication between coaches, players, and parents, but the rewards are worth the effort. A fun, fulfilling experience for everyone! 

A mindful competition is the club leadership plan that is clearly communicated by our club and coaches to our players and families. The culture is clear, and the expectations are defined. Great play is valued on the field, but leadership and teamwork are equally important and equally valued. The team must work for the individual, and the individual must work for the team. Without one, the other does not exist. ‘MINDFUL COMPETITION IS WELCOME HERE! WE SEE YOU AND WANT TO HEAR YOU.’

The Story of a Youth U12 Female Player:

The story of a youth U12 female player is a clear illustration of the need for mindful competition. As a member of her club’s third-ranked team, she enjoys ample playing time and a central role, which is undoubtedly beneficial for her development. The coach also coaches the 2nd team of the club. The two teams commonly practice together for a host of reasons. However, the team’s interactions with each other reveal a clear imbalance.

Players on the 3rd team, who are normally highly competitive and aggressive in soccer, lacrosse, and basketball, quickly become wallflowers when the two teams hold joint practice. It is interesting and strange to watch. On questioning the team about the lack of fight, the players’ answers are unanimous. They all fear social attacks and conflict on and off the field. This environment has led to a situation where the third team’s players, feel disincentivized to compete, perceiving little reward in challenging the established order. There is little benefit and a perceived threat if they challenge the environment that has been created. 

Similarly, the experience of a U15 male player on a talented team competing in the ECNL illustrates the limitations of a system that prioritizes stability and core players over meritocracy. Despite the team’s relative success and stability, the reluctance to adapt team dynamics based on evolving player capabilities highlights a missed opportunity for fostering a truly competitive environment that rewards effort, skill, and improvement. 

At Charlotte Rise FC, we are committed to fostering mindful competition, where meritocracy guides our approach to team dynamics. We believe in creating an environment where healthy competition drives player development, resilience, and determination. By encouraging players to challenge each other and the status quo, we aim to cultivate a team culture where excellence is the norm, and every player feels empowered to strive for their best.

Youth Soccer competitiveness mindful

Our journey toward promoting mindful competition is grounded in transparent communication and a shared understanding of our competitive ethos among players, parents, and coaches. This shared vision helps build a community where striving for excellence is not only encouraged but celebrated, ensuring that every player’s effort and improvement are acknowledged.


In conclusion, the experiences of young athletes in traditional soccer clubs underscore the transformative experience of adopting a model of mindful competition. By prioritizing continuous challenge and improvement, Charlotte Rise FC offers a blueprint that promises to unlock the true potential of young athletes. This approach elevates our club, ensuring every player is empowered to be seen and heard. At Charlotte Rise FC, our actions will speak louder than our words. Our gratitude for your trusting us with your children cannot be measured. We look forward to gaining your trust.


What is mindful competitiveness in soccer?

Mindful competitiveness in soccer refers to the integration of mindfulness practices into competitive play, allowing players to remain focused, calm, and present during matches. This approach helps in enhancing performance, reducing anxiety, and improving decision-making on the field.

How does mindfulness affect a soccer player's performance?

Mindfulness can significantly improve a soccer player’s performance by enhancing focus, reducing stress levels, and allowing for better control over emotions and reactions during critical moments in a game. It aids in maintaining a clear mind, which is essential for strategic thinking and physical execution.

Can mindfulness training improve team dynamics in soccer?

Yes, mindfulness training can positively impact team dynamics by fostering a sense of unity, improving communication, and reducing conflicts among teammates. It helps players become more empathetic and supportive of each other, leading to a stronger, more cohesive team.

What are some mindfulness exercises soccer players can practice?

Soccer players can practice various mindfulness exercises such as focused breathing, visualization techniques, and meditation. These practices can help players enhance their concentration, manage stress, and improve their overall mental resilience.

How can coaches integrate mindfulness into soccer training?

Coaches can integrate mindfulness into soccer training by incorporating mindfulness exercises into warm-ups, encouraging mindful reflection after games and practices, and fostering an environment that values mental well-being as much as physical fitness.

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