Stephany C. Coakley PhD., LPC

Certified Mental Performance Consultant (CMPC)

(866) 277-3401

Slump Busters

A slump…or dry spell…or drought…is defined as a period when a player or team isn’t performing well or up to expectations. When this happens, it can create doubt and lead to a slew of negative outcomes. For example, you could lose your position on your team, your ranking could drop, it could erode your confidence, or you may begin to suffer with performance anxiety. The reasons for the slump could be physical, technical, tactical, mental or a combination of all these factors.

Every athlete has experienced a period like this. Maybe you have had this experience multiple times. It doesn’t matter how talented you are, your age or the level that you play at; athletes experience a period of time when they are not performing well for a variety of reasons. If you think that you may be in a slump – don’t fret.   Here are a few SLUMP BUSTERS that could help turn things    around for you.

Post-Performance Review (PPR) – Is a review of your performance and if you don’t do this already, as an athlete you should begin today! After every competition and training session assess your performance. The assessment should be written and include 3 – 4 things that you did well and that you want to continue doing. Reflecting on what you did well helps to build confidence, create energy and makes you feel optimistic. It is also important to record 3 – 4 things that you would like to improve on. Don’t dwell on the things that you need to improve, just set goals and develop a plan of attack!

Use your imagination – Instead of replaying your poor performances over and over again in great detail….change the channel. Use imagery – your imagination – to envision successful performances. Instead of replaying you missing the tackle, putt, serve or whatever skill you’re struggling with, envision making the tackle, sinking the putt or hitting an ace. When practicing imagery it is best if you bring in all of your senses to create a vivid, strong image. The stronger the image the greater the impact your imagery practice will have on your future performance.

Protect your confidence – Confidence is about your belief in your ability to do something. How can you protect your confidence when you feel as though you don’t have anything to feel confident about? Gain control of your self-defeating thoughts by creating a powerful impact statement. An impact statement is exactly what it implies – it has an impact on how you well you perform. Impact statements help to create the proper mindset and physiological conditions during practice and competition. Effective impact statements – for example, “success is my only option” will energize you, make you feel optimistic and improve your focus.

Keep your cool – When things aren’t going well in your sport it’s easy to become frustrated – angry even. Losing your cool does nothing to help your cause, and shows your opponent that they have you exactly where they want you! If you want to make it back to your level of play – before the slump – it is important to maintain control. Anger and anxiety get a bad rap but there is such a thing a healthy anger or healthy anxiety – anxiety can motivate and anger can energize. It becomes problematic when the intensity of certain emotions becomes a barrier to peak performance. Managing unhelpful emotions is critical! Self-awareness is important here, pay attention and when you recognize unhealthy levels of anger or anxiety, for example, rage, behavioral outbursts, increased heart-rate, tension, or nausea — take a deep breath using your diaphragm, count to 5 then exhale to the count of 5.   Repeat this simple breathing practice until you feel a sense of control. Breathing deeply activates the relaxation response which allows you to keep you cool.

If you want to break out of a slump try these simple but effective adjustments to your mental approach. Remember that the goal is not perfection, its progress…back to that level of play that you know you are capable of!