We have all hit a dreaded “Slump”. This is when everything is off. Your shots are loose, the tin grows taller with every swing, your movement is awkward, even your trusty bread and butter shots have seemingly vanished all together. The worst of it is, the harder you try – the nastier it gets!!
Whether it be a game, match, week, month or more; a slump is horribly frustrating for any athlete. For now let’s focus on the immediate situation, hitting a bad patch within a game. So what is the key to breaking out of that raunchy performance when your “A” game has abandoned you?
1. STAY CALM
Yep. So hard to do, but essential none-the-less. Do not allow your emotions to kick-start the panic cycle. The more frustrated, aggravated and irritated we become; the tighter our bodies get. A stressed body contributes many negative factors into the game. Gone are the loose mobile legs, smooth swing, and confident shot selections. In come the tight shoulders, tense swing, sluggish untrusting legs and impulsive, forced shots. All of which allow more ugliness to seep into the game, affording your opponent to easily take advantage of (and clean up) the slop.
2. BE KIND TO YOURSELF
Try not to self correct or coach in that ever so damaging tone that is way too easy to slide into.
“Stop doing this. Start doing that… Idiot…Bleep, Bleep… etc. etc.”
Guess what? This does not aid in leveling out the bumps in the game. It only further contributes to the problem. The more we focus on what we are doing wrong, the more entrenched those actions become – stop feeding the beast! Instead of berating yourself, try to turn that negative self talk into something more comforting.
“Alright. No worries. This will pass. You’ve got this. Just breathe etc. etc.”
3. KEEP IT SIMPLE
You can’t merely power through it by hitting harder, trying shots that are not normally part of your repertoire and forcing winners from a defensive position. Now is not the time to be clever or creative. Now is the time to stop the frantic noise in your head and remove the complexity. Now is the time to be a minimalist. Go back to the basics. Execute good length, and good things will come of it.
Remember, there are good days and bad days – everyone has them. There are more than a million reasons that this particular day you may be a little off. It could be the simple fact that your opponent is playing spot on, forcing you out of your groove. The trick is to not let it all trickle in. Sometimes it is important to accept that you are not at your best and be okay with that. Even the recognition of that fact can help calm the mind and body enough to shake the dust off. That in itself might be all you need to turn things back around.
So, when your “A” game abandons you. Be Calm. Be Kind. Be Simple.
Squash Pro & Program Director
Brantford Movati Athletic