Most athletes go through a slow period or slump throughout their careers. Often time’s athletes don’t know why they have gone in the slump or how they got out of it. Some athletes “ride it out” and wait for the better days to come but there are a number of things you can do to help your situation. Below are just a few.
Step #1) Change the scenery: a change of scenery can be great medicine to get you back on track. Change your daily routines, drive different streets, take a day off, go to your comfort zone or place that makes you most relaxed. Everyone should have a get-away that helps them relax and “sharpen the blade” so they can get back on track. When things are not going well it is often time to change things up. Repeating the same thing day in, day out and expecting different results is highly unlikely.
Step #2) Play against different players: often times a fresh change of faces can be a good thing. You may be a game slump but between games do some training with a new group. In the pros it is not uncommon for players to be loaned out to clubs or sent to the reserves where they can get a lot of playing time, and challenge themselves again. This helps raise their confidence and bring the players back to their normal level of play. Try playing against some exhibition games or reserve games to help bring your confidence back. Sometimes arriving earlier to the training ground and or staying later after training to work on your personal game can work wonders. By doing extra personal training this will help sharpen your skills which will carry over and help build confidence back up again.
Step #3) Clear your mind of outside distractions: this can often be difficult but most often when players have their personal lives in order it then allows them to concentrate on their game. If your personal life is distracting you then it is best to sort those issues out as quickly as possible. Use personal relaxation tapes, meditation techniques, read books or do whatever it may to clear your mind. Instead of putting off what is bothering you it is best to deal with it rather than have it worry you in the back of your mind. As in all parts of life when your mind is clear you can then focus on the task at hand and give it your undivided attention. Unannounced to the general public college teams and professional clubs have psychiatrists to be of assistance to players if need be. At all levels of play it is recognized that a clear mental state is important to achieve success. This applies to all areas of life.
Step #4) Seek new guidance and feedback: while respecting your trainers’ advice it can be helpful to reach out to others who might be of assistance in providing feedback and support. This could be friends, family or teammates. A person who is well versed in your athletic background and can provide useful feedback from the outside might just be the medicine to help you get back on track.
Step #5) Learn to have fun again: most of us started playing soccer and continued to play because we enjoyed it. We play for the love of the game. Sometimes it is important to re-gain that feeling. Despite being a good player I quit hockey at a young age because I wasn’t having fun. There were all kinds of team politics that distracted me from enjoying the game and I decided not to continue. In hindsight I shouldn’t have quit because it wasn’t that I didn’t love the sport but I needed to learn to have fun again. Perhaps a new team and fresh faces would have been all that I needed to continue playing. I have since come across this feeling again in soccer but realized that I truly love the game and thus changed teams and was able to quickly enjoy the game again. Once I began having fun again I quickly regained my best form.
What has worked for you to get out a slump?