man swimming(Photo: Getty Images)

Weak athletes perform better in a team consisting of higher skilled individuals, according to a study published in Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology. High school and collegiate swimmers who ranked third or fourth individually, "swam significantly better in their relay race," says lead study researcher Deborah Feltz, Ph.D., professor of kinesiology at Michigan State University.


How come? Simple. The weaker swimmer tried harder to keep up with his or her more-skilled teammates, Feltz explains. They pushed themselves harder and changed their personal goals when paired with a better athlete. (The superior athlete's performance did not improve in relay races.)


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Your move: Be the weakest link--on purpose. Whether you're training for a 5K or building your career, surrounding yourself with more capable people will motivate you do to better. "They raise your goals and give you something to strive for," Feltz says.