After one month of baseball, the Cleveland Indians were 18-8, setting a franchise record for wins in the month of April. The Indians’ hot start has many believing the team’s slump during the past few seasons is finally over, thanks in large part to Grady Sizemore’s comeback. This shows athletes of every sport that no matter how bleak things get [e.g., the Tribe’s 190 losses over the past two seasons], there’s always hope.
Nostradamus himself could not have predicted that these young Indians would have the best record in Major League Baseball, but that’s how slumps work: you never know when you’ll break out of one. All it takes is hard work and perseverance to get back into the swing of things [no pun intended].
“I always try to leave it all out on the field—give it 100 percent,” says Sizemore, who is on pace to have a career year. The Indians centerfielder has never hit .300 or better, and it’s been five years since his career best .290. Since then, his batting average has dropped steadily—from .277 to .268 to .248 to a paltry .211 in the injury-shortened (33 games) 2010 season. Granted, it’s early, but Sizemore appears to have finally broken out of his personal slump [along with the team]. He currently boasts a .378 batting average and an astounding .822 slugging percentage.
“It’s tough,” says Sizemore. “It seems like when you’re in a slump, nothing you do is right. I think you just have to go back to that mindset of when you had success, how you felt at the plate, and try to bring yourself back to that.” He cites “timing” as the main challenge for slumping hitters, but going back to a “mindset of success” can be applied in any sport. Quarterbacks can recall how a perfect pass feels as the ball leaves their fingers; basketball players know how a good shot feels just before it goes in; and hockey players can remember the sensation of a perfectly-hit puck.
Remind yourself how success feels and approach each game with that in mind. Remove negative thoughts and focus on recreating those successful feelings. By refusing to let the past influence the present, you will set yourself and your team up for winning.
Time will tell whether the Tribe’s hot start will mean anything in October, but the young team’s mindset is a key factor in their early success. It isn’t always about talent. Many analysts predicted the Indians would finish last in the AL Central based on their talent. But despite having the fifth lowest payroll in a league that many fans believe is dominated by large market teams, they currently have the best record in baseball.
A “success mindset” can accomplish amazing things. You’ve seen it in your favorite sports movies [Hoosiers, Rudy, Miracle]; you’re seeing it right now with the Cleveland Indians; and it can help you too if you are in a slump and working to break out of it.
View the videos above for tips from Grady Sizemore on working hard and busting out of a slump.
Check out previous articles from STACK on the topic of individual and team slumps.
Bust Your Team’s Slump
How to Break a Shooting Slump
Slaying Batting Slumps
Drew Brannon on Getting Over a Slump