#29: How To Help Your Athlete Through A Playing Slump

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Playing slumps can be one of the hardest things to watch as a parent. 

It’s so hard to watch our daughters struggle in this way sometimes. 

To see her not play as good as she normally does
To watch her struggle through games where she feels “off”
To see the frustration as she tries to figure out what’s wrong

To see her confidence diminishing.

And the worst…

To wonder how long it will last! 

Here’s the good news:

They won’t last forever!

Playing slumps are part of EVERY athlete’s journey. 

So, what causes playing slumps? Here are a few key things I’ve experienced first hand and with my athletes:

  1. Experience: the longer she plays and works hard to build confidence and level-up, the more opportunities she’ll have to experience challenges, difficulties, and what might feel like “a slump”.
  2. Expectations: these could be expectations she puts on herself or unrealistic standards she holds herself to or they could be perceived expectations from coaches, parents, teammates, you name it! Either way, they can take some of the joy out of the game as they weigh on the athlete.
  3. Lack of Confidence: this can be underlying and manifesting itself into a playing slump during practice and competitions, or it could be a specific game or event that got in her head and then turns into another bad game and another bad game. Then she gets into a loop and isn’t able to get out of it and feels like she’s in a slump.

Keep in mind, we don’t want athletes to be confused with “I’m not playing well and I don’t know if I can ever play well again” and “I’m learning a new skill or I’m leveling up my play and right now I’m working through it.

So, what do you do when your athlete is in a playing slump?

We will talk about what causes slumps and strategies to get out. The first two are mindset shifts and the third (and bonus) strategies are tangible actions. 

Here’s what we’ll cover in this episode on how to help your daughter move through her playing slump and build her confidence:

  1. Realize that this is normal. Progress is not linear
  2. For her to realize that what she’s doing isn’t working and decide if she’s willing to try something new
  3. Break the cycle! I give you/her two strategies: visualizations and breaking the negative self-talk loop
  4. Bonus: Invest in mental training when she’s not in a slump! Having the skills and habits when she is playing well and confident will set her up to use them when the challenges and bad games happen.

Now take a sigh of relief knowing that what your daughter is experiencing is normal. 

In fact, I’ll go as far to say that playing slumps are actually good for her. 

After all, it’s in the struggle where we learn how to grow.
It’s when we’re challenged that we actually find and use new strategies. 

The easy path doesn’t get our athletes anywhere. 

Slumps are a vital part of her growth and confidence development!


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