4 Keys to Busting Out of a Slump
I got a message the other day from a terribly frustrated goalie who wrote, “I’m in a slump. What can I do to get out of it?”
First, let’s ask ourselves two important questions.
- What is a “slump”?
A slump IS NOT a series of losses or 4 goals against; those are results, and they only tell part of the story. What if you played amazingly and you lost 1-0 in overtime, three games in a row. Is that a slump? I don’t think so!
A slump is not external (ie. losses); a slump is internal – you’re off your game for a period of time. When you’re off your game, it generally leads to losses and goals against, but not all losses mean you’re in a slump.
So, a slump is when you’re off your game for a certain period of time.
- What period of time makes it a “slump”?
Let’s say you had a bad game, are you in a slump? What if you’ve been off your game for the last three games? That’s 100% of the last three games.
But let’s say you play 100 games per season (I know that’s a lot, but it makes the math easier) and you play well in 97 of them. Now, you’re only off 3% of the games and that would actually be a GREAT season.
Are you looking at a short period of games and losing sight of all the games you’ll play this year?
Knowing that EVERY goalie will have off games, does it make sense to panic because you had three in a row? Maybe you’re getting yours out of the way early!
When you start defining what a slump is, you realize it’s largely made up. I actually don’t think slumps exist, but I do think we get off our game…
So, if you’re off your game, read this special report for 4 ways to bounce back from a “slump”.
1. Quit Calling it a Slump!
Rule one of busting out of a “slump” is quit saying, “I’m in a slump.” All you’ll be able to focus on is being in a slump. You’ll be like a detective searching for facts to prove to yourself you’re in a slump. That certainly won’t get you where you want to go.
Saying, “I’m a bad goalie” or “I’m in a slump” empowers what we don’t want to happen.
Also, there’s a good chance this is just a random event.
If you were to roll a die 1,000 times, you would probably get every number 3 times in a row at some point. You’re bound to have a great three games in a row, an okay three games in a row, and a bad three games in row.
Why would you dwell on those bad three? We get what we focus on, so you should focus on the great instead.
2. Find the Great
We know ‘being off our game’ could simply be random, or we could actually not be playing up to our potential. One of the best ways to start playing better is to focus on what you’re doing great!
Start small… “I worked hard today.”
“Actually, in those flow drills, I was making a lot of saves. It was just those two goals I didn’t like.”
“Come to think of it, I actually was great in that last game, we just didn’t win.”
No goalie has ever had three games of not doing ANYTHING great. Take some time and write down what you have been doing great.
Feel your change in mood?
3. Focus on the Long Term
Back to the 1,000 die rolls or 100 games…so you felt off for a few games, so what? You probably have a game next week or even sooner.
I hope your goal wasn’t to have a perfect year – those don’t exist. Your goal is to have a GREAT year. And you can still do that!
My first game of my junior season at Cornell, I got pulled after 5 goals mid-way through the third period. (That’s a lot of goals in college hockey…) I was probably ranked dead last in Division I college hockey after that night.
I ended the season with the second highest save percentage in all of Division I college hockey. The season is LONG and your career is even longer, so stay focused on the long term!
Three bad games really isn’t that bad when you’re playing 40-60 per year. I don’t care if they were in a row! (Remember the die.) Stay focused on having a great year, not on having perfect games.
4. Try Easier
If you’re like me, your first solution to a “slump” is to try harder, to stop so hard that you break through the ice and down to the concrete. The only problem with that strategy is it never works…
Take a deep breath. Laugh. Seriously, laugh! Hockey is fun, it’s a game.
Ever noticed how when you’re just playing for fun, no pressure, the game feels so easy? You make saves without even trying?
There’s a lot of science as to why that is, but you just need to know that trying harder almost never works, especially when you’re frustrated.
Go out, have fun, and trust your game. “Try smarter.”
So next time you’re in a slump, first ask yourself, Do I feel off my game or did we simply just lose?
Always evaluate on what you control, not what you don’t control.
If you’ve felt off, is it a very small percentage of your season? I bet it is…
The best way to get back on track is quit saying, “I’m in a slump.” Better yet, never say anything negative about your game, unless you’re actively talking about improving something.
Then focus on the good. Instead of being a slump detective, be a greatness detective. What are you doing well? Start small, then find another thing you’re doing well.
Focus on the long term. No matter how bad your game was, you can still be the best goalie in your league.
Lastly, try easier and have fun. You’re at your best when you’re having fun!
These are 4 great ways to bust out of a “slump” (even though I don’t believe they exist) and to get back to playing YOUR best.
Thank you for reading! More questions? You can write me directly at Coach@GoaliebyGarman.com.
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If you liked this post about Busting Out of a Slump, read Elite Goalie Mindset to start cultivating a great mindset proactively!