4 Ways to Break Out of a Slump | STACK
X

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

4 Ways to Break Out of a Slump

December 10, 2012 | Chris Stankovich

David Ortiz SlumpWe can’t always be at our best. At some point or another, nearly every athlete goes through a slump, a period when they consistently play below their potential. During these times, athletes find themselves making uncharacteristic mistakes, or failing to fully capitalize on opportunities.

Slumps can occur for many reasons, from insufficient mental or physical preparation to an injury, or just plain bad luck. But the worst thing about a slump is often the athlete’s own mind. Once a player begins to think that he's doomed, he can’t do it, or she's not good enough, these thoughts become self-fulfilling prophecies. You have a bad game because you thought you’d have a bad game. Because you had a bad game the day before.

Simply put: slumps are frustrating. Thankfully, they’re also quite normal—and quiet curable if you have the right mindset. If you are in a slump, you can put a stop to it. Follow these tips to get your game back to its peak.

Forget the past

Athletes should forget about past performances every time they step onto the field. Your previous games—whether they were wins or losses—no longer matter. Since slumps often happen when athletes fixate on the things they did wrong in the past (worrying that they’ll do them again), approaching every game as a blank page will help you focus on what matters: the here and now.

Trash your negativity

Blew a play or two? Thinking that you stink at your sport?  Write down those negative thoughts; put them all down on paper; then take that list and tear it up. Throw it in the garbage can, and get those thoughts out of your life. Let this exercise symbolize your trashing of bad thoughts, so you can make room for good ones—and better on-field performance. (Learn about the power of positive thoughts.)

Get in a groove

While the word “routine” may mean “boring” to some, for an athlete, a pre-game routine is a great way to block out negative thoughts and concentrate on the tasks ahead. Going through a simple ritual—like always putting on your uniform in a certain way—takes the thinking out of pre-game prep, allowing you to direct your focus on the game. Imagine yourself making great plays. Listen to inspiring music. And visualize success. All of this will help you let go of the bad play you made yesterday, so you can play better today.

Enjoy the ride

Like life, sports are full of peaks and valleys. You’ll inevitably go through some tough times as an athlete; but you’ll also have moments when everything clicks. If you are stuck in a low, remember that you have ridden high, and have confidence that you will do so again. By thinking positively and keeping your confidence high during challenging times, you’re more likely to recover faster—and to reach your true potential.

To make your mind a weapon on the field, check out STACK's mental toughness page.

Chris Stankovich
- Chris Stankovich, Ph.D., is a licensed professional clinical counselor and founder of Advanced Human Performance Systems, a counseling and performance center based in Columbus, Ohio....
Chris Stankovich
- Chris Stankovich, Ph.D., is a licensed professional clinical counselor and founder of Advanced Human Performance Systems, a counseling and performance center based in Columbus, Ohio....
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

Why You Should Be Training Instead of Exercising

The purpose of this article is to shed light on some proven, though relatively obscure, ideas about exercising and working out, also, training used by...

The Holistic Approach to Impactful Sports Coaching

6 Ideas to Build a More Cohesive Team

Don't Take Your Headphones to the Gym

Are You Playing With a Winning Mindset?

How Nik Wallenda Prepared to Walk Across the Grand Canyon

Get Tough on Your Goals to Get Fit

4 Reasons Your Team Is Losing

Build Mental Toughness in the Weight Room

5 Steps to Changing a Bad Habit

Use Sports Psychology Against Your Opponents

4 Ways to Turn Mental Toughness Into Physical Toughness

Regain Your Confidence by Getting BIG

Positive Affirmations for Athletes

4 Obstacles to Better Goal Setting

Tips to Be a Better Leader

A Coach Describes What It

5 Steps to Becoming a Better Coach

Can a Faster Brain Increase Sports Performance?

Overcome the 5 Most Common Mental Mistakes in Sports

How Mentally Tough Are You?

3 Ways to Develop Your Football Warrior Mentality

Mental Warm-Up: How to Build Confidence Before a Game

Overcome Your Fear of Failure

Summer Mental Training Plan for Wrestling

What's Your Backup Plan When 'Plan A' Fails?

Growth Mindset: How to Think Like a Champion

Home Field Advantage Is Real, Says Science

4 Tips for Building Confidence

Study: Athletes Think Faster, More Accurately Than Non-Athletes

How Mental Flexibility Boosts Your Game

Prepare for Any Situation With Mental Sunscreen

5 Tips for Playing Mentally Tough Tennis

5 Tips to Becoming a Successful Athlete

Visualize Yourself Winning, and You're Halfway There

How to 'Keep Your Cool' on the Football Field

Make Goals, Not Deals

The One Word You Should Never Say to Yourself

So You Didn't Make the Team? 5 Ways to Move On

How to Improve Mental Focus on the Baseball Diamond

How Clayton Kershaw Gets in the Zone

How Mental Performance Affects Your Workouts