Do you overthink when you are in a slump?
When you are underperforming, are you more aware of your thoughts?
Trying to talk yourself through a slump is not the solution; it’s part of the problem. More often than not, your thoughts keep you stuck in the slump.
From our Softball and Baseball Mental Toughness Survey, a pitcher/ first baseman asked the following:
“Why can’t I break out of my slump? I’ve tried everything!”
If you think about it, at the very beginning of your slump, did your hitting mechanics change? Most likely, your mechanics remained the same.
Most slumps follow a similar path.
Before the slump, you are in the batter’s box, full of confidence. Before each pitch, you perform your pre-pitch routine, maintain the same approach for each pitch, pick up the pitch quickly and swing the bat.
The process is simple… See the ball, react to the ball. It’s as if you are not thinking at all.
After a few hitless games, you become tighter at the plate. You get fooled on pitches. You can’t make contact. You leave runners on base.
You still go through your pre-pitch routine, but now you are keenly aware of your thoughts, “I need to get on base. I need to drive home the runner.” Your thoughts are of slumping.
Instead of “See the pitch, react to the pitch,” it’s worrying about the at-bat, fearing a strikeout, overanalyzing mechanics and overthinking the situation. You are nervous in the batter’s box, pick up the pitch late, and swing erratically.
In other words, thinking about the pitch, thinking about not making contact, and thinking about striking out are problematic.
How do you work your way out of a slump?
The answer is to disrupt your thoughts. You may believe you need to “not think” at the plate or on the mound. However, thinking about not thinking is still thinking.
The best option is to replace negative thinking with something productive.
In other words, instead of focusing on your thoughts, focus on your pre-pitch routine or a 1-2 cue words, “Just throw,” “Relax,” or “load hands.”
The same is true for pitching slumps. Thinking is the culprit. Thought disruption again is the solution.
For instance, Los Angeles Dodger starting pitcher, Trevor Rogers, was the 2021 Rookie of the Year runner-up. Unfortunately, Rogers’ 2022 stats are underwhelming: 4-10 record, 5.85 ERA, 4.2 walks per 9 innings.
Rogers has been frustrated and extremely tough on himself through his slump.
ROGERS: “It definitely wasn’t my plan of how the second half of the season would go. This is really frustrating. It just seems like every five days, I’m not giving this team an opportunity to win, and that’s probably the most frustrating part. Just constantly putting in the work, and it’s not from a lack of effort, not from a lack of work, and it’s still not going my way. It’s super frustrating right now. I wish I had more, but it’s just really frustrating.”
The lengthy internal discussions you have with yourself interfere with your ability to perform on autopilot. Returning to form means getting out of your head and just playing the game.
Tip for Working your Way through a Slump
Review past successful streaks. Understanding how your thought process or lack of conscious thinking gives insight into playing at your peak.
Once you become aware of the mental components of peak play, you can start replicating that mental process in games.
Related Sports Psychology Articles
- Developing The Hustle Mindset for Baseball
- When Emotion and Intelligence Work Hand in Hand
- Perform Confidently Late in the Game
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