Show off – motivation or demotivation in sport?

We had a good talk with the children during Capoeira and Drumming camps this summer about showing off someone’s tricks. Some of children said that if someone is showing off then this make them sad and feel that they‘re not good enough, quoting “He want to make me feel bad about what I can do” … shouldn’t this be a source of inspiration to train and get better? After this conversation I started to think about the show off as motivation or demotivation in sport and would like to share some of my thoughts with you.

As a Teacher of Capoeira and lifelong student of this martial art I now look at Masters of Capoeira or athletes from other sports and I get inspired to train more to improve my game. But, I too remember to see someone doing incredible moves and I would think I’m not good enough, I wouldn’t be able to do it. So, what have changed? I’ve been thinking about this a lot and came to this conclusion:

The more I train the more I can do and the more I see that these incredible moves can indeed be learn if only I have patient and train regularly; the more motivated by these incredible moves I am.

However, as a Mum of a very active 5 years old I see that show off actually motivates him to train the moves he saw. We had acrobats teaching children last year and Gabryś attended some of the classes and got so inspired that he is doing the moves everywhere and want to show them off to others. I see that this motivated him and this is quite the opposite to what the children at the camps expressed.

The talk that started this all was with 5 all the way to 11 years old children and the ones who said about the show off being a demotivation for them were the oldest from the group. Again, the question is what have changed? What does change between the age of 5 to 11 that make some of the children feel less because they see someone doing better? I think this is a beginning of a bigger conversation that I’m looking for to discover one day and share with you.

For now, I’d like to tell you what we did on the spot during this conversation with the children at the camps. We talked about the best skills that children showed off that day. We mentioned every child and one thing we as teachers were so impressed about them. These were things like incredible jumping, kicks, handstands, capoeira games etc. We mentioned every child and their best moves. We said about the best in every child, something they are good at, something that they can show off. We believe that this can make them feel proud of themselves and show them that everyone has their best move and can show them off to positively inspire others. 

At our classes we often ask children to show off their best moves and see how incredible this is for them. We don’t ask them to do specific moves but only the ones that they feel comfortable doing and that make such a difference in the games. 

Conclusion: Everyone can show off something they are good at and it’s down to people who see the show off to decide if this motivate or demotivate them. We at Axé Boom Boom strive to teach that this can be a source of motivation as everyone has something amazing in them!

Keep training!


3 responses to “Show off – motivation or demotivation in sport?”

  1. Really interesting. It reminds me of an excellent book called Mindset by Carol Dweck.

    It talks about having a fixed vs a growth mindset- the growth mindset is what you were saying about realising that if you train you can get better.

    I think especially in the UK the culture is very much a fixed mindset one, that you are either born with talent for something or not. If you believe that then seeing someone show off makes you feel bad instead of inspired. I really recommend the book – it was very eye opening for me personally and as a parent.

    My experience of US culture is that it is much more of a growth mindset .


    1. Thank you for the recommendation Emma, I’ll check it out for sure. I’ve heard about fixed and growth mindset before but it would be great to get back to it and look at it from sport and training perspective! Thank you 🙏 and yes culture in different countries are very different. Me being from Poland I can relate to more fixed mindset but since teaching I’m developing more of a growth mindset I think. Thank you for sharing!


  2. […] into some of your comments from our first post, I’d like to talk briefly about fixed and growth mindset in relation to children’s […]


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