A slump is when an athlete consistently performs below their potential for a period of time. Think of it like a dry spell for athletic performance. Athletes who are in a slump may be underperforming at every game and not meeting expectations.

Slumps can occur for many reasons and can often go unexplained with athletes never recognizing the source. Most slumps are mental in nature with an athlete feeling fine physically yet having difficulty making the connection with their mind to perform.

Some athletes believe it to be bad luck and may even attempt to do ridiculous things just to ward off the bad vibes. However, silly it may sound, slumps are all too real to athletes, and even the slightest deviation from their routine can throw them off their game.

The good news is that there are ways to overcome slumps. Here are some ways to break you out of a slump:

Acknowledge the Slump

Accept that your game is off and that you’re in a slump. Fighting that you’re in a slump may end up making you feel much worse and even last longer. Fighting it may cause you to miss the signs of what’s caused the slump and how you can overcome it.

Focus on the Present

Forget past negativities because those are now beyond your control. Dwelling on them may only add to your anxiety and worse the slump. Remember that slumps are primarily in your head. By adding more for you to think about that will lead to more sadness or frustration, you’re only worsening the situation.

Stop Overthinking

Overcome the slump by not overthinking. Overthinking can lead to you questioning everything – from your skillsets to your technique. Overthinking may lead to dreading your future, and entertaining thoughts of what never overcoming the slump may do to you.

This can be overwhelming for the student-athlete who feels that an athletic scholarship is their only ticket into their dream school. And a slump can be even more frustrating for the professional athlete whose career rides on their performance.

Find Joy in the Sport Again

Are you already playing on a level where the pressures of performing at your peak can be overwhelming? Get out of your own head by rediscovering how much fun you used to have playing. Play the sport outside of competition. If you are swimmer, go for a playful swim with your friends. If you are a basketball player, play outside of your circle and make it a friendly game. If you are a golfer, skip the course and play a fun game of mini-golf instead.

When it comes to beating the slump, remember that you hold the key. Only you can release it and not let it have power over you. Just remember the next time you are in a rut that you’ve played at your peak before, and that with the right mindset, you can get there again.