‘A team’s strength is often dependent on each individual’s ability to invest in the process and own the outcome’
Cold rainy nights, sore battered bodies and potentially a win/loss record that reflects the opposite of how you wanted to be positioned at this point of the year. These are only a few of the factors that could be contributing to your personal mid-season slump. I’m not necessarily talking about just performance slumps but even mindset and motivational slumps that can greatly impact performance regardless. Personally, I see it on the track, with lower performance output and lower attendance numbers (with interesting attendance excuses). The upside is that there are always ways to beat the slump, and keep the ship in motion, full steam ahead.
1. Stop feeding the slump
How often have you given an angry seagull a chip for it only fly away and never annoy you again? Never, I’m guessing—so why would you continue to feed your negative mindset. Rather than focus on the bad weather, or how sore you might be after the session, turn your focus to positive reinforcement. The best way to overcome this is to ask yourself why you are doing what you are doing. Whether it’s the love for the game or chasing a premiership, everyone has a deep burning desire to go out each week and play and train. Continue to remind yourself of this. Start with positive self-talk after a good kick or a good session and watch how much of a mental difference that makes.
2. Accept ‘off’ days and keep moving forward
My definition of an off day would be a session or a game that has been well below par. We all have them—they’re inevitable. The goal here is to turn an ‘off’ day into a one off occurrence and not let it snowball into an off week and then into an off month. Accept it as being substandard and work to implement strategies that won’t let it happen again. You certainly don’t want your performance to impact the team and let is spread like a wild virus, and potentially let your teammates down by not performing your role.
3. Focus on the ‘NOW’
It’s so easy to let the mind wander during mid-part of the season. You might find yourself asking how many cold rainy sessions are left for the year, or how many tough games you’ll need to win to scrape into the finals. Focus on what’s happening session-to-session and game-to-game. Focus on specific drills and what you’re ultimately trying to get out of them. A simple trick with this is to spend time focusing on your ball drop or trying to hit a certain amount of passes in a row. Not only will this improve your skills but ultimately improve your motivation and help you stay in the present.
I’ve intentionally put this as point number 4 for a reason. Not to downscale its importance—because it is pivotal—but to detail a notion. The first three points were all points that require no equipment and minimal time yet the right mindset. Points 4 and 5 can be done to absolute perfection however, if the first 3 points aren’t attended to initially, your outcome won’t be as strong.
Try driving a car at 90 percent engine function. You won’t get to your destination as efficiently and there will be a much larger chance of breakdown along the way. The same can be said about your body, which is why recovery is so important. The secret here is clear—to be able to complete a Saturday game and be able to back it up, and train at 100% on the Tuesday. Recovery starts as soon as the final siren goes and continues throughout the week. This includes getting an adequate amount of sleep, icing specific injuries and getting the right macronutrients into your body.
Try make is enjoyable such as doing a team beach session on the Sunday morning and getting some food together as a team afterwards.
5. Keep the sessions short and sharp
This final point is more for the coaching staff, rather than the individual. Some teams like to ramp up their training in this part of the season to come home strongly around finals. That’s great, however, try to ramp up the intensity rather than the duration. Longer slogs out on the track can be mentally and physically tiring compared to a short, sharp high intensity sessions. The players will feel like they gotten a lot more out of it, without jeopardising their time after training spent watching their favourite reality TV show—Er, I mean recovering.
Sometimes adversity is what an individual needs to take that constructive next step. Adversity creates opportunity to accept what’s happening in the present and move forward. A mid-season slump is one such adversity you may face. So rather than deny it, understand and accept the adversity, and make positive changes that will help you overcome this challenge, and ultimately move forward.
Thanks for reading!
Dr Anthony Liberatore (Osteopath)
About the Author: Anthony Liberatore is an osteopath at Competitive sports clinic located in the Essendon district. Anthony has a special interest in all sports related injuries and exercises rehabilitation.