Breaking out of a slump

One of the most frustrating things in softball is to one day find yourself in a hitting slump. Things were going along fine, and then suddenly it seems like you can’t buy a base hit. Then no matter what you do you can’t seem to find a way out.

Take heart, though. There are ways to break out of that slump and get your hitting back where it ought to be. Here are a few quick ideas.

Number one, difficult as it may be, is to relax. Players often perceive themselves to be in a slump long before there really is a true slump. They may have been unlucky, not getting the results they wanted, or just having a bad day. For example, you can hit the ball on the nose and have it go directly into a fielder’s glove. That’s not a slump, even if it happens four times in one game. That’s just bad luck. What can send it into the death spiral, though, is feeling like you’re in a slump and starting to press. You’re so desperate for a good hit that you start swinging at bad pitches, which creates weak hits, and before you know it you’re so uptight you don’t know what to do. THAT is a slump.

You just have to relax. Take a deep breath — in through your nose, out through your mouth. Then focus on seeing the ball. If you can relax you can be more positive, and if you’re more positive you will have a better at bat.

Of course, there may be some mechanical reasons why you’re having trouble hitting. That’s where video comes in. Record yourself swinging in a game, and compare it to when you were hitting better. Or even better, have a qualified hitting coach do the comparison for you. Once you see what’s going on, get on the tee and start working out the kinks in your swing. A good tee session can go a long way toward fixing what ails you.

Working with a coach can also act as a touchstone — something that gives you confidence just for having done it. For some players it may be a parent. For others it may need to be someone other than a parent. But just having that familiarity and comfort level can help drive away the “evil spirits” that are afflicting your bat and keeping you from being all that you can be.

Slumps are not permanent unless you make them so. The best thing you can do is change your routine, give yourself a fresh start. The more you separate yourself from the current slump, the easier it will be to overcome.

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