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How to Win

Breaking a Slump

Today’s post is late for reasons that I’ll explain tomorrow. In the meantime, it comes just in time to include an item about a team that finally broke through. The NJIT men’s basketball team, which had owned the longest losing streak in Division I history, came up with a victory Wednesday night.

Everyone goes through losing streaks or slumps. It seems they go on forever, with no hope or end in sight. That’s the problem: the results begin to affect the expectations. The deeper a slump, the more difficult it is to expect a good result.

That’s true for all athletes, not just for NJIT. When baseball players go through slumps, their perceptions actually change. The ball seems smaller, the bat feels heavier, and the fielders seem bigger and faster.

When hockey players go through goal-scoring slumps, they begin to grip the stick too hard. They always seem too early or too late with their shot. The goalie always seems to be in the right position. Eventually, players begin to expect the worst. That means that to a large degree slumps and losing streaks are an expectation of failure.

So the key to breaking slumps or losing streaks is to keep expectations high, even when there is no apparent reason to do so. Naturally, you will ask how can anyone keep expectations high in the midst of failure? The answer is simple.: you’re allowed to FEEL any way you want. But you have to ACT like a winner. It’s a lot easier to change your actions than to change your feelings.

Ever see a soldier standing at attention? It’s very impressive. But here’s what’s important for athletes. Just as no one knows what a soldier is feeling, no one needs to know how confident you’re not. They only need to see how confident you act.

Meanwhile, congratulations to NJIT!


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