Recently a social media post caught my attention. A pool player asked how to get out of a slump, something almost everyone can relate to! This is probably even more relevant during the insane year that is (& fortunately soon to be that was) 2020, with all of it’s sickness, lockdowns, unemployment, injustices, politics, etc. No matter if you’re normally very enthusiastic & motivated, the heaviness of the times is sure to weigh on you. Whether it is connected to sport performance, health, work, relationships, family or any aspect of life, slumps are very normal to experience & almost always discouraging. I’ve worked through many slumps in my career & life, let’s talk about some things you can try to get back on track.
Expectations & Self Limiting Beliefs
Oftentimes we take ourselves too seriously and create too much pressure to perform well. Society, our family, friends, occupations & our brains can create many ideals that are not the best for us or set in stone. As a daughter of a very competitive veteran father I
know this too well. On one hand I’m grateful for my strong level of discipline & desire for excellence, on the other I can be too self critical & struggle with not feeling good enough. I work to find harmony between my emotions & it’s a juggling act every day. I challenge you to self reflect on your expectations and where they come from. What purpose do they serve? Are they realistic? Are they part of your childhood or past identity? Sometimes slumps can originate when we feel stuck between what we think we are capable of & what we want achieve. Your self talk is very important & often we hold ourselves back with self limiting beliefs. To learn more about self limiting beliefs, here is a great article by Ray Williams How Self-Limiting Beliefs Can Sabotage Our Success and Happiness also check out his 10 Top list in yellow. Recognizing your self limiting beliefs is the first step towards getting rid of them & shifting your mindset. You can do it!
Change it Up
Try changing up your routine! Do you always practice the same way? Do you always play at the same pool hall, on the same table? Do you always play the same people? Do you only play league? Do you only play a certain league? Do you only play tournaments? Do you only play local tournaments? If you’re in a slump I recommend dramatically changing your routine & taking yourself out of your comfort zone. For some people this thought is exciting & for others it’s terrifying, but I can promise it is critical to your growth as a person & a pool player. Every time you change something in your life it can be nerve racking cause you don’t know what to expect & you’re afraid to fail; however, it’s either take the risk or stay stuck in a rut. As you get used to each change you will build resiliency & grow stronger. You have only one life to live, the risks are where you make the most of it!
Take a Break
Sometimes you are just burnt out. I have been addicted & obsessed with pool most of my life so I know this feeling too well. My coach, Mike Napolitano, would periodically tell me “Starting tomorrow, don’t touch your cue for 3 days” & every time it helped me play better pool. Another professional once told me “You play TOO much & for TOO long.” Every time he saw me at the pool hall I was playing for hours on end. He brought up a great point that during tournaments we often play a match for an hour to an hour & a half, then we have a few hours to rest. He recommended I also practice this way which made sense, although I must confess I’m still prone to an occasional marathon. Consider if you’re either playing too much or perhaps
for too long when you do play. If you don’t feel like playing, try not to force it. You want to feel that desire. Check out this great article by Doctor Craig Dike Stress vs. Burnout–What's the difference | by Doctor On Demand and his interesting chart
Find New Articles, Videos & Books For Inspiration
With WIFI, smart phones & social media we have so many resources at our fingertips. Next time you’re feeling in a slump, instead of just mindlessly scrolling through Facebook or Instagram, go online with intention. Jump on your favorite search engine & look for inspiring/informative articles. Look for some new pool matches or drills on YouTube. One thing that has helped me out of a few slumps is listening to audiobooks through the app Audible. Some of my favorites are: “Own the Day, Own Your Life” By Aubrey Marcus; “The Chimp Paradox” By Dr. Steve Peters; and “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*CK” By Mark Manson.
HAVE FUN! My final piece of advice for getting out of a slump is to have more fun! You could just be stuck cause you are putting too much pressure on yourself to win or play well, remember pool is just a game. It seems obvious, but when you love pool & are competitive it’s easy to forget.
By Emily Duddy