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Six Tips for Breaking out of a Slump

Throughout the course of a baseball season, a slump can strike without warning. Whether you play 20 games or 100, every player will experience periods where nothing seems to go right at the plate.

What is a slump, exactly?

“If you’re hitting the ball hard, in my opinion, you’re not in a slump; you’re just not getting hits,” said Troy Silva, hitting instructor for Rijo Baseball, a facility featuring subscription-based online training. “A slump is when you’re not hitting the ball hard, you’re not seeing the ball well.”

A common mistake is to hit the panic button and make major changes to a swing or batting stance. In most cases, a hitter’s struggles are mental, and come from anxiety or a lack of confidence.

Here are six things players and coaches can do to break those dreaded doldrums.

Don’t overthink it. Players shouldn’t think about their swing during a game. Coaches can unintentionally cause more harm by giving too much information. “What I tell kids is, don’t even think about a slump, just show up to the field that day and plan on having fun and try to be a good teammate,” Silva said.

Coaches Toolkit by GameChanger

Eliminate the negative voices in your head. Lindsey Wilson, founder of Positive Performance Training, uses a technique she calls Guided Visualization to remind a player what he’s capable of, and help him rehearse the process that brought previous success. “If you’re able to do it in the past, you don’t suddenly lose your ability to do it,” explained Wilson, a former high school and college basketball player. “You mentally have to remind yourself what you’re capable of, even though your reality might not be showing that.”

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Stay off the tee. Silva recommends positioning a real pitcher 20 feet from home plate and throwing as hard as they can. “Get off the machine, see some curveballs, do something that’s more challenging versus changing your swing,” he said.

Admit you’re comfortable with your slump. At first, this seems to go against the grain of logical thinking. Nobody enjoys struggling. Wilson explains the thought patterns we use the most are the ones we go to more often. “If you’re in a slump, there’s a sense of safety, a sense of comfort,” she said. “As miserable as you might feel, at least things can’t get worse.”

Take the focus off of yourself. With all the emphasis placed on individual accomplishments, it’s easy to get caught up in your own goals or statistics. Silva advises putting the focus on being a team player. Smile, have fun, encourage your teammates.

  1. Relax, don’t press. Most athletes are programmed to want to fix what they perceive is broken, and they often put more pressure on themselves during a slump. Instead, Wilson says, let go of that control; don’t get too attached to results. “You can’t always fix it by pushing,” she explains. “The solution is not always trying harder. In fact, a lot of times, that’s going to get you the opposite of what you want.”

A slump doesn’t have to destroy your confidence, or take away the pleasure of playing the game. Remember, success and failure both come in cycles. The test of any player is how he overcomes his struggles.

Find out more by reading Wilson’s blog post, How to Get Out of a Slump. For a limited time, you can also view Rijo Baseball’s video on slumps for free.

From GameChanger and Stephen Kerr.

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