How To Break Players Out of Slumps Fast
May 07, 2019
What is a slump? Why do players go through them? How can a player break out of a slump fast?
Slumps are the outer manifestation of an athlete’s inner imbalance on the deep unconscious level. Their muscle memory, reactionary performance, or instincts become misaligned with the conscious focus of performing at a high level and when left unaddressed, a player’s performance will suffer.
Take a computer for example. It can become bogged down when cookies, mal-ware, or viruses from past web history log up and hinder the computer’s operating system, ultimately affecting the computer’s performance. The same thing happens with players who go through slumps. A player’s unconscious mind or muscle memory can be become imbalanced by the thoughts, emotions, and images from paston and off-court experiences. These thoughts, emotions, and images generally, are naturally processed out of a player’s psyche, but sometimes when they are intense enough, they can become trapped within a player’s operating system. When this happens, these performance blocks can hinder the information flow from the unconscious to the conscious mind, which is required to consistently produce high-level performance. Inevitably, when this information is blocked, players struggle. If these blocks are not processed out naturally or tended to by outside performance techniques, a player will experience a slump. Obviously, slumps can occur in all areas of one’s game, but the most prevalent and most well known is generally the shooting slump.
Maybe one of the most infamous slumps in NBA history was the Orlando Magic’s Nick Anderson free throw shooting. During game 1 of the 1995 NBA finals versus the Hakeem Olajuwon and the Houston Rockets, the Magic had blown a 20-point lead but still had a 3-point lead with 10.5 seconds to go. Anderson was at the line and just needed one free throw to seal the win. He missed the first, then, the second, grabbed the offensive rebound, and headed back to the line for two more. Anderson proceeded to miss the following two free throws, ultimately costing his team the game. The Rockets would go on to sweep the Magic in 4 games, and Anderson could never get over the free throw debacle, going from a 74% to a 40% percentage free-shooter in a matter of a few seasons. The never ending slump that Nick “The Brick” as he became to be known, found himself in effectively ended his career, as he washed out of the league a few years later. “It affected the way I played,” Anderson said. “It affected the way I lived. It played in my head like a recorder – over and over again.” Anderson’s experience is one of the more extreme examples.
Arguably the best shooter of all-time, Steph Curry was hit with a slump during a 7 game stretch in mid-March during this past regular season. Curry shot 23.6% from behind the arch, going 16-72, shooting nearly 20% lower than his career average of 44% average. The point being, even the best are not immune to unconscious imbalances that can hinder performance. Steph worked his way out of the slump on his own. However, he probably could have ditched the down trending performance sooner.
If players knew how to get out of slumps, they would obviously do so. But the slump is not a conscious mind sort of thing. It’s an unconscious mind kind of thing. The more and more a player thinks about a slump, the worse off it can get. So not to get trapped in the downward spiral of second guessing one’s ability, players will often not address the slump at all. In reality, most players think the best way for breaking out of slumps is to not address them, not think about them, and just push their way through them, which is also not an ideal way for breaking out of a slump. Although the player is not compounding the slump with continually focusing on it, the actual thread to why it is there in the first place has not been addressed. Thus, the slumping mentality and its pre-existing performance blocks still exist. Even as great as Curry is, when asked how he is dealing with his slump, he said, “You’ve got to grind your way through it.”
The multi-million-dollar question is how can players like Curry and Anderson break out of a slump faster or avoid them altogether? The answer, employ a McAfee and Norton like anti-virus performance program that identifies and removes imbalances within the subconscious, such as thoughts, emotions, and memories that have become trapped, in order to maximize player performance. The program aligns the player’s operating system, or muscle memory. Once this happens, a player can get back to confidently and instinctually responding on the court without hesitation, allowing for higher-performance states to again be accessed. When this happens, there is no more slump.
Below is an example of how a program like this can change the course of an athlete’s down trending performance fast:
Example Player # 1: During the first 10-games of the season, the player was shooting 31% from the field. After a completing comprehensive program geared towards breaking him out of his down trending performance, the player’s field goal percentage took off, improving by 15% throughout the remainder of the season.
Player # 2: After struggling to score the ball early on in the season, the main program focus for this player was to create consistency in his scoring. After McAFee’ing the performance blocks out during the program, the player increased double figure scoring certainty per game from 55% to 83% while increasing points per game by 8%. Performance began to shift upwards gradually with this player.
The key takeaway here is that slumps begin and end in the unconscious and/or muscle memory of a player. The player either eventually processes out the disruptive and unbalancing performance blocks, or they stay stuck in down-trending performance for longer than they have to. The next frontier of high-performance does not lie in coaching or systems that focus solely on just the physical, or just mental aspect of a player. Rather, by focusing on maintaining balance between all levels of a player (a synthesis of the physical and mental), will allow for the greatest performance outcomes to occur over the long-term. As this happens, slumps will be a thing of the past.