4 ways to get yourself out of any slump
Watch any sport long enough, and you learn something quickly: slumps are inevitable.
The thing is, they’re not limited to sports. Everyone goes through a rough patch every now and again on the job, where no matter how hard you work, it seems like nothing is going your way.
If there’s something we can learn from professional athletes – whose slumps are a lot more public than ours – it’s that you never throw in the towel.
Here are four ways you can get yourself out of a slump.
Pinpoint the problem and adjust
Andre Agassi is considered one of the greatest players in tennis history, but he had his fair share of struggles. In 1993, for example, he hit slump, falling from the world’s top spot and then suffering a wrist injury, which only made things worse.
The following year, Agassi hired coach Brad Gilbert, and the two looked at isolating the troubles he was having on the court. Did he need a new game plan? Agassi had rocketed to the top by overpowering opponents, but his competition had figured out how to play against him. Worst yet, this style was putting unnecessary strain on his body. Working together, the pair came up with a new game plan, one that was more tactical and focused on consistency. While Agassi had all the shots in the book, he often made bad decisions. This was in stark contrast to Gilbert, who built a successful playing career by focusing on his footwork and tactics. With this experience, he helped Agassi improve his fundamentals and decision making.
This addressed one problem, but Agassi had pinpointed another: he sometimes struggled with the mental side of the game. To address this, he enlisted the help of life coach Tony Robbins, who helped him create patterns that would make the game easier and eliminate distractions (like his wrist injury)
Combined with his new style of playing, this had a large impact on Agassi’s performance, and later that year, he became the first unranked player to capture the U.S. Open title. He then went on to regain the number one spot in the world.
The definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. If Agassi had never switched coaches and changed his game style, he may never have had such a successful comeback.
Sometimes when going through a work slump, you will try and put in extra hours, or work harder but you won’t actually get out of the slump if you don’t take the time to pinpoint the problem. What obstacles are you running into? What is holding you back? When you figure those out, you can then start making the right adjustments. And like Agassi, don’t be afraid to reach out to others who can offer help and support.
Don’t dwell on the past
Back in 1965, baseball player Willie Mays went through an 0-24 hitting slump made worse by the fact that he was struck out 24 times in a row. Mays was so upset with his performance he asked Leo Durocher to send him back to the minors. Durocher responded that he would be the Giants center fielder no matter how long the slump persisted.
So instead of focusing on missed hits, Mays kept going up to bat – he just kept at it – until he started getting hits. Focusing on the task at hand seemed to work for Mays; he ended the season breaking the National League record for home runs and was named MVP.
If athletes thought about every missed play, fumble, or mistake, they would never succeed. Similarly, it’s hard for you to succeed if you keep relieving a project or meeting that has gone wrong. To stay productive, focus on the present, and getting through the task at hand. By doing so you won’t let negativity from the past set you back.
Stay motivated and keep pushing
When NFL quarterback Carson Palmer tore his ACL and MCL, and dislocated his knee (which resulted in tissue and cartilage damage), he could have just given up.
Instead of quitting, though, he worked harder. Palmer went through intensive physical rehab, which sometimes ran for seven hours or more. But he also made sure his head was in the game;
he watched film, studied the offense, and even invited his receivers to Camp Carson to go through mini drills together.
“You have to be ready to attack every day,” Palmer told Stack. “You have to be ready to be mad, and bored, and sick of doing the same thing every day. You just have to know that is what the situation is going to be, and get through it.”
Because he stay motivated and kept pushing himself, he had an outstanding comeback the next season, throwing for more than 4,000 yards, with a QB rating of 93.9%.
It’s extremely easy to get down on yourself when you hit a roadblock. The key, however, is to keep your end goal in mind. You have to want it so bad that it pushes you through every obstacle and slump.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
When Auston Matthews went through a 13-game goal-less streak, he didn’t panic like a lot of the media did, instead he turned to his coach for help. Mike Babcock and Matthews worked together, watching game film of players like Sidney Crosby and Henrik Zetterberg to learn from some of the best forwards in the game. With Zetterberg, they focused on where to stand in the right spot; with Crosby it was how to get the defense out of position. The video lessons paid off: Matthews was back to business in no time, and finished his first NHL season by beating the Leafs record for most points from a rookie.
When you are going through a tough time at work, it’s okay to ask for help. Your co-workers are your teammates and your boss is your coach. They are there to help you find a solution. Trust me, your boss has had to overcome a fair share of slumps and his or her experience and knowledge may be what you need to overcome yours.
Just like athletes who hit a rough patch, there is always a way to get out of a slump. By figuring out the problem, working on a solution, and believing in yourself, you will be able to find the light at the end the tunnel and break out of your slump.
Mia Gordon is a former professional tennis player and a sports broadcaster. Over the course of six years, she has worked for TSN, CBC Olympics, and the Sun News Network. She is now a host, reporter, and producer for Sportsnet and the National Lacrosse League.