The Psychology of Hitting Slumps
Slumps are inevitable in baseball, but slumps can still be mentally draining for some players.
Slumps can cloud your perspective causing you to call into question your ability to produce on the diamond like you had in previous stints.
For some players who are smack-dab in the middle of a slump, there seems to be no end in sight and no way possible to get out of their performance rut.
This negative mentality only serves to solidify further lack of production.
That’s right, negativity is the primary mental culprit in entrenching you deeper into that pesky slump.
You may ask,
“How is it possible to be positive when I can’t buy a hit, had a string of fielding errors or have lost command of my pitches?”
Of course you will experience some negative reaction when you are not producing to the level of your ability, but by consciously adopting a different mindset, you can end your playing woes more quickly.
During the course of an MLB season, you will hear many reports of players battling through a performance slump, yet almost all are able to work themselves through the slump and regain their form or even play at a higher level than before.
In fact, there are 750 players on active MLB rosters and every one of them will experience some sort of performance decline during the course of a 162 game season… So you are not alone.
Louisville Cardinal coach Dan McDonnell understands the importance of mindset when working through a slump.
One of the best players on his team, Corey Ray, is going through a dry spell. Ray, a junior outfielder, was recently drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers with the fifth overall pick in the 2016 MLB draft.
Ray has a career batting average of .322 during the course of his college career but fell into a 1-for-12 slump failing to reach base for a three game stint as the season was nearing its end.
Rather than ruminating about the slump, McDonnell proposes his star athlete keep a “big picture” approach.
Focusing on the slump itself is a frustrating and self-defeating mindset.
A “big picture” approach is a positive mindset that focuses on your whole body of work instead of defining your season by a string of bad games.
McDONNELL: “You don’t need too many voices. Keep it simple. I mean, it’s hitting. Everybody goes through some good at bats, and you try not to live in the three-, four-, five-at bat world. It’s big picture.”
By too many voices, McDonnell suggests that it is counter-productive to get advice from many different sources… but one of the loudest voices is the one inside your own head.
If you learn to keep perspective and maintain a positive mental voice or mindset, you can bust through that slump quicker and play at a high level again.
Tips for fostering a positive mindset during a slump:
As McDonnell stated, “You can’t live in the three-, four-, five-at bat world.”
Keep in mind the Law of Averages… If you stay positive, your performance will balance out and you will soon produce like you have in the past.
Making drastic changes in your technique and over thinking the at-bat can keep you stuck in a slump so keep it simple and go back to what’s worked in the past.
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