Getting Out of a Slump
What is a “slump?” Is it some number of consecutive losses in a row? Is it when your win percentage is at 50% or below? Or is it when you feel you’ve lost mobility or a shot you could always depend on? I’ll tell you what it really is: it’s a frame of mind.
The answers to the questions above are simply yes. Because it all depends on how you view your level of playing at any given time. It’s subjective. There are so many factors involved with a loss: your partner, how your body is feeling (injuries/sickness), pressure of the match, court conditions, and on and on. Many players use these things as excuses to justify a loss, good or bad.
The best way to get out of a slump is to change your frame of mind. You need to find a way to get that belief back — that confidence to play your best even when you feel like you are in a slump.
The first thing to do is time to take stock. It is important to not put too much emphasis on your “tennis identity.” We are league players, weekend warriors — and there are no gold Rolexes for us at the end of a match. Remembering this perspective will hopefully give you pause and help you feel less pressure about your progression. Your friends and family care about you, not about your tennis victories or losses. Think about why you play the sport and reevaluate your thought patterns around why you are really out there.
Secondly, set new goals. When you have a few goals to focus on, it takes you out of your negative space and helps you build focus. One goal may be to get into the net faster, or to work on your volley, or cross training to improve your mobility. Be sure to set just a few goals because you can’t fix everything at one time. Decide what’s important and focus on it.
Thirdly, think about the things you can change to get your mojo back. Consider changing hitting partners, play social tennis (for fun instead of results), play on different courts with new players — anything to change the situation in your mind. Summer is a great time to do this as much of the regular season is finished. Sometimes, taking a breather from competitive tennis is all you need to recharge the batteries.
The bottom line is that a slump is about how your perceive it. Stop worrying about what others think and focus on the things you can control – your mind and how you react to the challenge in front of you. See this video on The Women’s Tennis Network to help build a confident mental mindset.