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A Major Leaguer described being in a slump as feeling "trapped, alone, and disoriented."
When your top goalscorer is in a form slump, she’ll often resort to trying too hard.
She’ll tense up.
She’ll snap at goalscoring opportunities.
In ice hockey, they have a great term for it: squeezing the stick too hard.
When you shoot a hockey puck, your stick should sit pleasantly clasped in your hands. But when you’re not feeling it, players tense up and squeeze too hard.
Recently, Cincinnati Reds star Joey Votto described the feeling of being in a batting slump. Votto is not used to a lack of success — he’s a six-time All-Star and former Major League MVP.
In coaching your goalscorer out of her slump, how do you help her out of the labyrinth? How do you help her not feel trapped, alone, and disoriented?
What counsel can you offer her?
What words do you tell her?
Relax, trust your instincts, let the game come to you.
As Joey Votto points out in his tweet, it’s remarkably ‘easy’ to find the exit to the labyrinth. Stop squeezing your stick so hard!
There’s irony in telling our players to relax, trust their instincts, and let the game come to them.
The irony is that when leading a team that’s in a form slump, coaches are notorious for squeezing the stick too hard.
We tense up.
We snap at any opportunity to right the ship.
Taking Our Own Advice
Perhaps worst of all, is we add needless rules or pressure in an effort to forcibly ‘get control of the situation’. Over time, these new rules pile up and strangulate the team to the point where their natural talent can seem to disappear.
As former England cricket coach Trevor Bayliss said, "There aren't many occasions when a dressing room needs extra pressure. I've seen the damage that can do."
It might sound counterintuitive, but the way to coerce a talented team out of a slump is to relax your grip a little, trust your instincts, and let the game come to you.
It sounds silly, doesn’t it? When your team is underperforming, to let go a little bit.
I’m sure it’ll make some coaches queasy.
But that doesn’t make it any less true.
Not squeezing the stick too hard is the answer for your star goalscorer’s slump, and it’s the answer for you when the team is in a slump as well.