Science of Rivalry

Ever had the feeling your most ruthless rival encouraged you to perform better? Your feeling was right. Sport and fashion brand Björn Borg worked with Professor Gavin Kilduff from NYU Sternm – a renowned business school in New York. He investigated how rivalry in sports can improve performance. The result: your biggest rival will surely bring you to your highest athletic peak.

Many people believe that rivalry can make you run faster, so you can inprove on performance and exceed limits. Björn Borg asked Kilduff  (who spent the last decade researching psychological aspects of competition) to investigate this very fact. Kilduff concluded that there are positive aspects to rivalry, even among other legendary rivals such as John McEnroe and Björn Borg.

The outcome of this research is the basis for the new Björn Borg campaign: Dear Rival. This idea focuses on the positive aspects of having a rival and the fact that your rival at the same time is your best friend. After all, your rival has to bring out the best in you, help boundaries and give a performance you could not achieve on your own.

Professor Gavin Kilduff: ” During my research, I analyzed a thousand runners and their performances over the course of six years. What I found was that when a known rival of a runner competed in the same race, the runner’s performance was up to five seconds faster per kilometer. During a five kilometer race the runner sprinted 25 seconds faster throughout the entire race. That’s a significant improvement. ”

When asked why rivalry helps athletes improve performance, Kilduff has a psychological answer: “Rivalry does not necessarily mean that rivals do not like each other. Rivals are inextricably connected to each other. A rival motivates thhier counterpart to train harder and longer and to simply perform better when they compete against each other. ”

Jonas Lindberg Nyvang, Marketing Director of Björn Borg: “Unfortunately, 2016 was a year full of hatred. Warring politicians, countries and mindsets … Rivals intimidated and fought on all fronts. With Björn Borg, we know a thing or two about rivalries; After all, we have the DNA of one of the biggest sports rivals – John McEnroe. Both athletes have pushed each other throughout their careers to improve themselves. This has inspired us to say you do not need to fight because you are another rival. The opposite of rivalry is founded on respect. We find this a truly beautiful position ”.

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