Sandbagging is used in competitive sports, careers and even social situations. It’s a form of manipulation used to gain the upper hand, and it’s subtly devious.
I became familiar with sandbagging some years ago. This form of manipulation is unlike any other tactic used by narcissists and toxic individuals. In fact, this act of dominance is seen in the ranks of reputable people, just the same as what you might call the “low-life”. It’s used as a normal way to gain control of any given situation.
Sandbagging is a marked characteristic of high and low Machs (Machiavellians). Nicollo Machiavelli, author of The Prince, in 1513, brought the act of sandbagging into the light. In his book, he promotes the idea of rising in pollical power, to eliminating those who would deem to be stronger, thus, gaining in strength among the weak, using all possible means.
At least, this is the basic jest of the story. This is the basis of the terms high and low Machs, symbolizing those who use whatever means necessary to remain in power, even through the use of manipulation, hence the connection between the term, Mach and sandbagging.
The difference between the high and low Machiavellian mindset.
While low Machs delve in all sorts of manipulative effort, they generally use the sandbagging angle much more than the high Machs. High Machs attempt to retain the higher reputation which bluffs the opponent (this would be where competitive sports are concerned.) In order to keep the upper hand, instilling fear is used predominantly by the high Mach, while downplaying, or sandbagging, is the “game” of choice of the low Mach, for gaining the upper hand by surprise.
For instance, when playing poker, the high Mach may make their opponent believe that the hand they’re holding is unbeatable, causing bluff which could scare their opponent to fold. On the flip side of manipulation, the low Mach may indicate that they have a terrible hand, thus making opponents take their guards down, seeing as they have no worries pertaining to the game.
These tactics are seen throughout all sorts of competitive ventures, including situations at work and at home too. While the high Mach’s bluffing may seem intimidating, it’s really the sandbagging, used by low Machs which end up causing the most damage or loss. Interesting, isn’t it?
sandbagging: When a player chooses to not perform their best
sandbagging: a barricade consisting of bags of sand
Hmm, why is there two distinct definitions for sandbagging? Well, probably because one definition derived from the other. In racing, bags of sand were used as barricades at the edges of the tracks. During the warm up laps, those who chose to manipulate the race would bump against the barricade and make the car slow down, clocking them at lower speeds before the race. Since they were seen as slower cars, they would get a placement closer to the starting line. Ingenious!
Due to this manipulation, the term sandbagging was coined for a rather ancient trick. Machiavellianism gained a more modern label, you see.
Sandbagging as seen in social situations
Now, although sports events and career situations may be what you want to learn about, I also want to expand on that subject and include social matters. Rather, I would like to discuss the effects of sandbagging on relationships and mental illness, seeing as that is my foray. This tactic can surely be used to
This tactic can surely be used to manipulate and control others just as well as it can bring success through competitive arenas. Sandbagging can greatly damage trust and the reserve of individuals who already suffer from mental handicaps.
Those who have become familiar with the game of control have the ability to use all sorts of mind tricks. Move over Jedi, these tricks have become complicated and advanced. The ability to fool your partner or friend into letting down their guard is heinous and quite effective.
So, I’m going to be your guinnea pig again, your lab rat, so to speak. I have been on both sides of the looking glass before, enduring some of the most horrific mental manipulation that you could ever imagine. I have given money, time and emotional energy to those who really had no use for it. Imagine that!
I have believed that friends were sick, weak or poor only to discover that I was being asked to take down my wall and let them come inside. Their fake weaknesses caused me to be kind and giving and then later on raped of all my own resources in order to make them stronger. The intention was to gain power over me by feigning weaknesses – they used things like grief to get close enough to steal from me.
And it didn’t end there. Gaining the upper hand had to come through gaining my trust. It was just that simple and I fell for it easily. I gave things that I really needed in order for them to feel good about themselves. But the joke was on me, they were perfectly fine and then gaining momentum as I lost things I really needed.
And I was the manipulator as well. After enduring emotional abuse, I learned to lower myself and wear a mask of helplessness. The more I feigned dependence, the more I stole from those who lent me a hand.
I didn’t blatantly reach into a pocket book and take out a wad of cash, no. I conned my way into the hearts of good people and allowed them to shower money on me. I did. I was guilty, and I stand here letting you know how easy it is to operate as a low Mach, using sandbagging to get anything you want.
Now, do you get an idea of what sandbagging is?
If you’re still having trouble wrapping your mind around what sandbagging consists of, I can give you a few more examples.
Faking an injury right before sporting events causes your opponent to assume you aren’t much competition. When the event starts, he is already thinking in a slower frame or mind, an easy frame of mind.
Now’s your chance. You can get into supercharge mode and blow your adversary away, running faster, playing better and making wiser plays. Your opponent will be so shocked that it will take a few minutes to get back into the faster and more observant mindset. Instantly, you have the advantage.
In the work environment, using sandbagging means downplaying salesmanship skills in order to fool your sales competition into a relaxing state of mind. All the while, you push your skills to the limit gaining a huge advantage, thus winning the sale.
In a nutshell, sandbagging is pretending to be weak while gaining in power
It’s just that simple. I hope you’ve gained a higher level of understanding, especially if you find yourself dealing with manipulation techniques such as this.
Sandbagging may seem rather harmless, but it can do damage in a subtle way. Whether you are the victim or the player, knowing the basic idea of this tactic will improve your life in more ways than one.
I wish you luck and remember, honesty is always best… even if it means you lose.