[CQ-Contest] The Psychology of Extraordinary Contesting Efforts

Larry Reader readerl at goliath.sunyocc.edu
Mon Jun 2 16:47:16 EDT 1997

As some of you know, I write the "contesting" column for the Salt City DX
Association "Salt Tablet".  Thought this month's column might be of
interest to members of the reflector.  Your comments are always welcome.

73 - Larry
        Trustee, WP2Z

The Psychology of Extraordinary Contesting Efforts

As the trustee for the Windwood Contest Station, WP2Z,, I have occasion to
participate, vicariously most of the time, in a lot of very competitive
contest efforts throughout the year.   My "job" is mostly to make sure the
station is completely operational, talk to the ops about propagation,
remark about the techniques that seem to be effective from Windwood, etc.
I'll  also introduce new ops  to previous year's ops so that rate sheets
can be exchanged, that sort of thing.

One of the best parts of taking care of WP2Z is the correspondence with ops
after a contest, especially when the contest went well.  Most of the time I
can attribute a  good showing to the usual, ie.  Windwood is very loud and
the op was very competent.

Over the past six months there have been two efforts, however,  that are so
extraordinary I have been forced to look beyond the obvious reasons for a
"top 5" contest finish and ask myself what "intangibles" were present in
these two contests.  Just what made these two contesters "different".
Once again, I'm not talking about the obvious, that you need a loud station
and a competent op, we all know WP2Z is competitive and by and large only
competent ops are willing to spend their vacation and several thousands of
dollars to operate a contest from Windwood, I'm talking about the

It appears that Bill Morgan, K0DEQ, has placed 4th in CQWW CW  SOLP.  Big
deal, you might say, just a repeat of 1995.  Except Bill didn't use a
computer!  He hand logged and hand keyed the entire contest and still
placed top five, in this day and age, in the CQWW!!  Andy Larsson, DF3IAL,
has just posted 8.01 MEG, SOLP, in the CQ WPX CW contest, more than double
last years winning score.  This was Andy's first time using a computer to
log.  He'd never done it before.  

And so my question.  What psychological factors allowed these two gentlemen
to raise their performance "above and beyond" what would be expected?
Here's my list, for discussion, addition. etc.

  -  Does the history and track record of a station stimulate confidence?
Or does it induce a "fear of letting the station down"?  Does it make an op
feel that he "must" do well; that it's expected?

  -  If an op goes from a "normal" station to a "top 5" station does the
change, the pileups, raise the op to a "higher" operating level?  Is there
an "exhilaration factor"?

  -  Does a potential "big score"  feed on itself?  If you're doing better
than you've ever done before, when you realize that you might finally
actually win a contest, does it give you extra energy to get through
Saturday night, to fight the Sunday afternoon blues?  Are you at that point
where you "refuse to lose"?

  -  Does the cost and sacrifices made to make the trip add to the
determination of the operator to do well?  Is there a "I'd better win this
thing or my wife/buddies/fellow workers will never let me live it down"

This is not a complete list, it just scratches the surface, I'm sure there
are many more factors and I'd love to get feedback.  Let me know what you

And hats off to Bill and Andy for unbelievable performances.

73 - Larry     

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