A lot will have to do with your personality. Most competitive gymnasts are naturally competitive people, they enjoy competing and find it difficult to imagine anyone who wouldn't. So it can be difficult to understand why other feel that way.
But there are many people who prefer not to compete, they may not enjoy performing in front of a crowd, or get nervous when they are judged.
Some gymnasts also prefer just being able to learn skills rather than perfecting them to get a flawless score, and working routines.
If you don't compete you can learn skills a lot faster as you dont need to spend so much time perfecting routines. But most people then need the competition in order to motivate themselves to want to learn new skills.
My close friend was terrified of meets. Her mom said it was always a struggle to get her in the car. She competed the minimum number of meets a year, usually winning at least 2 events, if not more. She was just an incredible talent, and very hard worker. Then she took a year off of meets, then decided to compete again, but very few meets a season. It's a shame, especially because she is so good. We tried everything to make her more comfortable with meets, but nothing helped very much. It seems like she's growing out of it a bit though...she's going to be a sophomore this year, and 8th grade was the year she took off competing.
Some people also have a fear of success. They feel that with each success there is added pressure to KEEP ON succeeding and KEEP ON improving. Competitions can be very stressful and success is exemplified when you compete. Some people like the challenge of learning new skills, but doing it in their own time and at their own pace. With competitions, it seems like it is always a "race" to get new skills and perfect them.
It can also be a case of burn out as well. We have a girl at our gym who was training elite at another gym. Because of the constant criticism, pushing, etc. by her coaches, she started to lose skills and could not get them back. She was very frustrated by the lack of any positive reinforcement as well. There are youtube videos of her elite qualifying meets.... she was GOOD!!! Anyway, she quit that gym, came to ours for a more relaxed, fun environment... but refused to compete. Her mom said she needed to get her confidence back up, so she trained all year w/o competing. Don't know what's going to happen now though.... We, of course, would LOVE for her to compete, but she has to be ready for it.
I was wonderring the same thing...it could be fear of competition, or maybe the person doesn't want to commit to so much time in the gym...it's a huge commitment and a lot of money!! I bet competing also changes the sport for a lot of people - from something that is a lot like playing around on the pkayground, where the success comes from learning new skills to a huge focus on competing, where success comes from doing well in competitions. Personally I like to compete, but sometimes it would be nice to be able to train skills just because you feel like it, and not because you need them to compete
As someone who doesn't love to compete, I would say that for me, it is a mix of a lot of things. I don't like the added pressure of meets, although I love performing and doing my routines. I think that being judged just adds more pressure and (as a perfectionist), I just worry myself too much about the scores, instead of just having fun. Even though I don't like competing, I still go to most of the meets, but I would rather be in the gym, learning new skills. Sorry if I'm rambled, thanks for listening(/reading).
I always found that I could never perform my routines in a meet as well as I could in practice. It was annoying and I was old for my level. I found it much more fun to just be in the gym with my friends than in front of judges.
I remember reading a study in college that suggested that people enjoyed an activity less once they started getting paid for it. One thought was that, because they were receiving payment, they felt a greater sense of responsibility to deliver the final product and more pressure to perform perfectly the task perfectly. Basically, it wasn’t fun anymore. For some people, it's the same when it comes to sports. Once competitions come into the picture, they feel a lot more pressure to perform and a responsibility to themselves, teammates, parents, and/or coaches. It stops being “fun” and instead becomes “work.”