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Down in the Slumps

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People often ask me, 'Do I ever get into a slump', and if so how do I get out of it?  Slumps are a difficult thing.  Every player reaches a plateau at some point and it seems like you aren’t getting any better and in some cases it feels like you are getting worse. Even so, there are several ways to get out of a slump.

Get Back to Basics: Spend some time working on your bridge, stance and grip.  You might find that you have gotten careless or sloppy in these and that has caused some not so consistent results in your game.  These kind of mechanical mishaps can slowly chip away at our confidence and make us play even worse.  Take some time to work on your practice drills.  Try and really fine tune your game.

Try Something New: Keep your eyes and ears open for new shots and techniques.  Don’t be afraid to seek out advice from other top players.  Pick up a favorite instructional book or DVD and comb over it, odds are there is something that you may have missed or just now makes perfect sense to you.  This will inspire you to try new things and try to improve your game.  Think back to when you first started playing, wasn’t it fun to play every day?  Of course it was, and it still can be.  The reason it was so fun is because you were soaking up all this information like a sponge.  Get back to the root of it all and set your ego aside and begin to learn again.

Play for Fun: Occasionally chasing after that trophy or prize money, or even the week in week out monotony of league play can make you lose sight of why you are playing.  Take a step back and enjoy the game for what it means to you.  Watch some of your favorite matches between top professional players.  Maybe sit and tell stories of the good old days with one of the local house players, rehash some road stories of players from the past that inspired you.  This will help rekindle your love and passion to play.  More often than not we are in a slump simply because we have lost our drive to win, or lost sight of our goals.

Take a Break: If I'm in a real bad slump, sometimes I might take a little time off.  That’s right, I said it.  To get out of a slump, don’t play!  I feel like sometimes we need a vacation.  Our minds are overloaded with information and low confidence, our bodies wracked with sore muscles from trying to practice through the slump.   Take a few days away from the game.  Try not to even think about pool for a few days.  Let your mind clear of all the negativity and your muscle aches heal.  When you come back you will likely find that you not only want to play but you cannot wait to play!  Come back with a fresh mind and body and a new drive to play.

Remember that no matter how deep of a slump you find yourself in, they aren't permanent. It's not easy, but all you really need is to find a way to get out of your negative mindset and get back to work!

Mikey V.