The Free Press, Mankato, MN


June 21, 2014

How to bust out of a slump

All athletes experience a time when they are not playing at their best. Sometimes it’s because of mechanical or physical problems that need to be corrected or healed.

But when it comes to the length of time an athlete is not at their peak depends on his or her mind. The thoughts that are consciously running through their head play a key role in dealing with a slump.

Coaches, athletes and commentators often use the word slump when athletes are not performing at their peak consistently. But a slump can occur outside of sports, including in your career, your academic studies or your personal life.

The common causes of a slump, and the strategies to deal with one, are similar regardless of the area in which someone is experiencing the slump.

Here are the three most common psychological reasons that people experience a slump:

1. Thinking too much about your performance can cause paralysis by analysis, causing both physical and mental anxiety. Overthinking can also lead to over-trying, where you press instead of playing or living life automatically and naturally.

2. Dwelling on past failure or mistakes can also lead to a time period where people are not at their best. It is almost impossible to get good results when you are dwelling on the negative.

3. Focusing too much on an outcome, such as winning or improving you statistics, can lead to a slump. Winning, for example, is not completely in your control; it depends on your opponent. Focusing on either winning or stats during a game can lead to loss of confidence and increased anxiety.

The key to dealing with a time period when you are not performing at your best is redirecting your mind. Your mind, and the thoughts that you allow to run through it, are key to improving your performance.

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