By Eric Johnson
Slumps stink. They’re the worst. When you’re in a slump, it’s all you can think about for about 23 of the 24 hours in the day. The field feels like it has shrunk to the point where there are no more holes, gaps, or alleyways. Every count is 0-2 as soon as you step in the box, and every hard hit ball finds a glove.
Slumps are going to be a part of your baseball career until the day you hang up your cleats. There really isn’t any way to avoid them, and there isn’t a foolproof method to get out of them.
The only thing you can do when you’re slumping is minimize the slump. You’ll hear coaches say, “Stay off the peaks and out of the valleys.” Baseball is a game of consistency. Hot streaks and slumps are imposters in this game. They will eventually end, and your numbers will eventually even out.
The most important thing to remember when you’re trying to minimize a slump is that you have to keep your chin up. It’s easy to make an out, head into the dugout, slam your bat and helmet down, then sit on the bench frustrated, wrapped up in your own problems.
That can’t happen.
First, don’t act like a selfish teammate. Stop it. Everyone goes through slumps. Your teammates will understand, and will pick you up. But if you retreat into your own world and stop being a good teammate, you are distancing yourself from the people that you depend on. It’s hard, but you have to keep supporting your team while you’re struggling.
Second, the more you get wrapped up in your own head, the longer the slump will last. It might seem impossible not to think about it, but you have to do your best to stay on an even-keel. You might have to make some changes to your mechanics or your approach, but you can’t let yourself get worked up while you do it. You cannot give in to feeling defeated.
So here are the keys to making your way through a slump:
- Keep your chin up. Act like you own the field. No matter how hard it may seem, keeping your attitude in check will help you work through the tough times.
- Get to work. A slump can result from a million different things. It can be mechanical, mental, or approach-based. You need to be your own best coach. Slow down your thinking and diagnose the problem. Then put in the time to fix it.
- Separate yourself from the game. You have to take time off mentally and physically. See a movie, hang out with friends, do something that doesn’t involve baseball. The more you wrap yourself up in it, the harder it will be to break out of your slump. Get your mind off the game. It will help you relax.
Slumps will always be a part of baseball. Never forget how good you are, and never lose your confidence. Stay off the peaks and out of the valleys, and you’ll be just fine.