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Momentum in a Head-to-Head Competition

by Ron Kurtus (30 May 2007)

Momentum is a situation when one team, group or organization in a head-on-head competition seems to be in a state of peak or optimum performance. It is similar to the state of flow or being in the zone or on autopilot for an individual competitor.

In fact, some members of the team with momentum may be performing in the zone. This is seen in sports, business and war. The opponents can make efforts to disrupt the momentum.

Once a team or group loses their momentum, they often go in the opposite direction and perform well below their abilities.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions.



Momentum

Momentum is when an organization is moving forward as is seemingly unstoppable.

Sports

Typically, momentum is referred to the play of teams rather than individuals. A basketball team may go on a scoring streak where they just don't seem to miss. A baseball team may score five or six runs in an inning.

It seems that the good play of one person rubs off on the others, such that the team performs at their peak. But also, their streak of good playing affects the competition, such that they are back on their heels and in some disarray.

Political campaigns

In competitions for political office, one candidate's campaign may suddenly gain momentum with more and more people supporting the person. If the momentum peaks by election day, the person often will be the winner.

Efforts to break momentum

Opponents will usually make efforts to break momentum of the side that is doing so well.

Sports

The strategy to deal with an athletic team's momentum is usually to call a time-out or to do something else to disrupt the pace of the game. A time-out not only allows the team on defense to regroup, but it also often results in the team with momentum to cool down and lose their focus. They start to think about their shots.

Business

Companies that see their competition go on a winning streak may try some publicity stunts to get the public's eyes off the other company for a while. That break may cause the public to change their view of the company that was doing so well and be more rational in their buying activities.

War

In classical war—such as during World War II—one side could be moving forward with momentum, winning battle after battle. The side on the defense may make a sacrificial attack from the flank in an effort to cause the offensive army to temporarily lose their focus. This would allow the defensive army to regroup, while the army that had momentum will suddenly lose that edge.

Cooling off

Often when a team or organization cools off from their momentum, they will go in the opposite direction and perform at a much lower level.

Sports

This is often seen in basketball and American football games, where a team that can do no wrong suddenly cools off and starts to play poorly, thus squandering a large lead and often losing the game.

Business

In business, Krispy-Creme donuts became a rage in the early 2000s. People lined up outside their stores to buy their donuts. They had tremendous business momentum and were expanding rapidly. But soon that momentum cooled and the company found themselves overextended and contemplated going into bankruptcy.

Political campaigns

Some political campaigns may gain momentum with more and more people jumping on the bandwagon and supporting the candidate. But then some unfortunate comment or news article will break the momentum. This results in a tremendous decrease in support for the candidate that is much greater than justified.

Summary

Momentum is when one group in a head-on-head competition seems to be in a state of peak or optimum performance. This is seen in sports, business and war. The opponents often make efforts to disrupt the momentum. Once a team or group loses their momentum, they often go in the opposite direction and perform well below their abilities.


Get into the flow


Resources and references

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Top-rated books on Winning Competitions


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