When most people hear slump, they think about a scoring slump.
And rightfully so, as that’s what gets talked about the most. And that’s also easiest to measure. I mean if you haven’t scored a goal in six games, it’s pretty easy to measure that and call that a slump.
But slumps come in all shapes and sizes.
Teams slump by being inconsistent and losing games or just not clicking the way they know they can. Goalies get in slumps and fight the puck. And even players, whose job is not solely based around points, get into slumps with their play and decision making.
So how do you work through that as a player?
I think there are a lot of different approaches that players and teams can go through to get over a slump, but here are a few things that have always worked for me.
Simply The Game - As I have said numerous time on here, at its core, hockey is a simple game. Trying to complicate it usually only leads to frustration. So instead of trying to make that extra stickhandle, shoot the puck. Or instead of trying to make that extra move, get the redline and dump the puck to a spot that your team has a chance to get it. I’m a huge believer that players should, and need, to be creative on the ice. I think that’s the way the game was meant to be played. However, when you simplify the game, you’re getting back to your foundation. For most players, when you get back to your foundation, and keeping the game simple, you’re allowing yourself more opportunities for continuous success. And confidence is built through success.
Focus On Building Your Confidence - While I think we should be working on our confidence everyday (hockey player or not). It’s even more important when you’re battling through a slump. Slumps create doubt and put fear in the foreground of your mind. So how do you combat this? Start by finding small moments of success and continuously building upon those. In other words, instead of focusing solely on scoring a goal, find success in making a tape to tape pass, or winning a one on one battle on the wall, or having an active stick and deflecting a pass. If you can have the mindset to focus on those little instances of success, you’ll soon find that your confidence should continue to grow. Small instances of success can lead to a gigantic growth in confidence.
Communication - While this may seem a bit odd, I think it makes a huge difference. When things aren’t going the way we want, the easy thing to do is shut down, stay quiet, and simply hope things turn around. Communication is vital all the time in hockey, but especially when things aren’t going well. Think about it, how much easier is it to play hockey when your teammates have great communication? WAY EASIER. I always loved playing with guys that talked a lot, and the truth is that the game is way too fast to not be helping each other out. That little heads up from your goalie or D partner can be the difference between you getting buried in the corner or you making a quick smart decision. Like I said above, one of the problems with slumps is that we start to think too much, and instead, need to simplify the game. Communicating does this, it simplifies the game. It makes decisions easier and gives you the feeling of support as a player. Plus, the added bonus to the whole thing is that it not only helps your game but also helps your teammates.
While I’m sure there are other tips and tricks out there to help you work through a slump, these three things all follow my big rule of focusing on things that are in your control. And all three of the items listed above are in your power to control.
You can simplify the way you play, you can focus on building your confidence, and you can definitely control how much you communicate on the ice, on the bench, and in the locker room.
The last piece I will leave you with is that you have to understand that slumps are part of the game. It doesn’t mean that you have to like it, but you have to know that it’s part of the process and everyone goes through it at one point or another.
Don’t stop believing in yourself and your abilities and make sure you remember what it is that has made you successful as a player. So dig in, work hard, and break through that slump.