The Power of Pete Carroll’s “Always Compete” Mindset

Pete CarrollPete Carroll is one of the most fascinating and innovative coaches in America. His high-energy, super-positive, open-minded approach to the game of football has challenged many of the long-held beliefs about the way coaches “should” coach football.

Conventional or not, Carroll’s approach obviously works as he’s piled up victories and championships at both the pro and college levels.

The central theme to Pete Carroll’s “Win Forever” philosophy is competition. He wants his players, his coaches, and everyone involved with his program to adopt an “Always Compete” mindset. He’s convinced that an atmosphere that constantly emphasizes relentless competition is the key to success—in any field.

However, sometimes people get the wrong idea about what “competition” really means. Pete Carroll explains…


Lots of people talk about competition, especially those who seek to achieve high performance no matter what the profession. In my experience, however, the real essence of competing is often misunderstood.

Competition to me is not about beating your opponent. It is about doing your best; it is about striving to reach your potential; and it is about being in relentless pursuit of a competitive advantage in everything you do.

As I worked through the process of developing my vision and plan for success, I decided that competition had to be at the heart of everything we would do—absolutely everything.

Our stated goal would be to “do things better than they have ever been done before.” When you think about it, that is a statement about competition in its purest form. However successful you may be, there is always some element you can improve upon, some achievement to exceed.

Competition is typically defined as a contest between individuals, groups, teams, or nations; it is a test of skills. In my world, however, competition is much more than that. It is a mentality, an outlook, and a way of approaching every day.

The traditional definition of competition requires having an opponent. For players, the real “opposition” is not necessarily the team they are matched up against in a given week—far from it. The real opposition is the challenge to remain focused on maximizing their abilities in preparation for the game.

The essence of my message about competing has nothing to do with the opponent. My competitive approach is that “it’s all about us.” If we’ve really done the preparation to elevate ourselves to our full potential, it shouldn’t matter whom we’re playing.

My opponents are not my enemies. My opponents are the people who offer me the opportunity to succeed. The tougher my opponents, the more they present me with an opportunity to live up to my full potential and play my best.


– Pete Carroll, from his book Win Forever

Pete Carroll knows what history’s greatest winners know: true competition isn’t about beating your opponents; true competition is about bettering yourself.

The “Always Compete” mindset means never being complacent. It means having the determination to keep improving, to keep growing, and to keep learning. It means accepting responsibility and deciding each morning that you will make today better than yesterday.

Some people view competitiveness as a negative quality. They see competition as a zero-sum game that hurts more than it helps. As Pete Carroll’s definition makes clear, those who hold that viewpoint have it all wrong.

Competition is good for you. It’s good for those around you. It makes everyone better. Choose to be an ultra-competitive person and be proud of it!