It doesn’t matter whether you are a professional athlete, minor league player or a weekend warrior, at some time or other in your sports history you will undoubtedly encounter a slump, a period of time when you just aren’t playing your best.
A majority of the time a slump is due to a lack in mental concentration rather than a problem with your talent and ability. There are many different things that can suck the mental energy and concentration out of you. So if you find yourself in the middle of a sports slump, try one or more of these slump killers to put you back in the winner’s circle.
1, LIMIT YOUR TIME AROUND NEGATIVE PEOPLE
If you are surrounded with negative or unsupportive people and you wind up dealing non-stop with them before and after your games or matches, there is no doubt that you are bringing those negative vibes onto the court or field with you. You can’t eliminate all the negative people in your life but you can definitely limit the amount of time you spend around them. Surround yourself with like-minded and supportive people and you will notice an improvement in your focus.
2. BE PRESENT IN THE MOMENT
Stop worrying about the loss you had last week, and don’t be worried about making it to the final when you’re only in the first round. Have your head in the current match you’re playing RIGHT NOW. Take it point-by-point if you have to. If you find your mind wandering, come back to the present and focus on the current play or the next point. Being depressed about yesterday or anxious about tomorrow does nothing to improve your present situation.
3. TALK TO A SPORTS PSYCHOLOGIST
Sometimes just talking to someone else about what is going on in your head will help bring you better mental clarity. Back in 1997-98 tennis champion Andre Agassi slumped so low in the rankings (No. 110) everyone wrote him off as a has-been. After meeting with life coach Tony Robbins not only did he rise to number six in the rankings, he also won the French Open, U.S. Open and the Australian Open. Keeping your emotions bottled up can destroy your game. So be open to talk to someone who will listen with an open mind and help you work it through.
4. BE FEARLESS
One of the biggest reactions by people in a slump is to play it safe. Although there can be times to play it safe, there are also times when you need to go out on a limb – take a risk and don’t worry about the outcome. Just when it looked like the Patriots were out of the game in the 2017 Super Bowl, they started taking more chances and bigger risks. The result was they came back from the brink of disaster to win another Super Bowl. Wouldn’t you rather lose a game by taking risks than knowing there was more you could have done?
5. KEEP YOUR MOTIVATION UP
Why do you play sports? Do you play it for fun, to honor someone or maybe for self-improvement? No matter your answer, it’s correct; each one of us plays our given sport for a particular reason. Sometimes while playing, however, we seem to lose sight of what motivates us to play. Whatever keeps you motivated to play, keep that vision in front of you every single time you play. Know why you are playing, and how it makes you feel. Although winning is nice, it shouldn’t be the only reason you have to keep playing.
6. LEARN TO SAY NO
Most of us have way too many daily items on our plate and we often don’t find enough time to accomplish them all. Have you ever given up a practice just so you could do something else you wanted? If you ONLY play on game day then chances are this could be why you’re in a slump! Make time for practice even if it means skipping an evening out with your friends. You may be naturally talented but to keep your skills in top shape you need to practice.
Know when to say NO!
Bryan Lee is a National Exercise & Sports Association (NESTA) certified personal trainer, life coach and author who has lost over 130 pounds. Please check with your personal physician before using these health and fitness tips.