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High-Performance Mindfulness: Top Five Things Not To Do During A Slump

Jake Rauchbach lists the top five things NOT to do during a shooting slump.

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The shooting slump can be an enigma to even the most seasoned player. We are going to break down the top five things NOT to do to when experiencing a shooting slump.

Changing Shot Mechanics

Trying to fix chronic shooting issues by tinkering with mechanics generally creates further issues for the shooter. The reason why? The underlying cause of the slump is not physical. It is rooted on the mind-based level of the player.

In a slump, the root cause of what ails the shooter is not because a shooting elbow is too far out, or because the ball is coming off the wrong finger on the release.

Yes, these are contributing factors. However, when mechanics such as these are tweaked without also addressing the actual deeper cause, players tend to experience further issues.
Einstein said that you cannot fix a problem from the same level of awareness that it was created from. The same can be said about the shooting slump.

Trying to fix physical form is addressing the symptom but not the cause. This is why changing mechanics is almost always ineffectual.

Film Watching

When a player is experiencing a slump, watching film to critique form and analyze shot selection is also not recommended.

When is the last time any good shooter consistently shot the ball well by critically analyzing (thinking about) their shot? Shooting is all about feeling and not thinking. We ask players how does your shot feel, not how does your shot think. In this way, shooting is more of an art than a science.

Film study that has the player break down his/her current form and shot selection can have the effect of activating the analytical thinking mind. This is counterproductive and can block a player’s ability to feel better about his/her shot.

Increasing Repetitions

The adage that increasing repetitions is the way to bust a shooting slump is antiquated and generally does not work.

Hard work is only effective when the different parts of the brain are in alignment. When they are not, as in the case of a shooting slump, then the player generally is just spinning his/her wheels.

We have all seen those players that spend hours in the gym and are not able to translate that work into tangible in-game improvement. In a slump, the best thing a player can do — outside of releasing mental clutter— is to go to the movies and get their mind off of the experience. Increasing reps in this instance is generally not beneficial.

Thinking & Analyzing

As mentioned above, slumps are not fixed by using the conscious mind to figure out a solution. If this were effective, players would routinely be able to hypothesize and think themselves out of the downtrend.

It is very common for a player experiencing a slump to analyze his shot attempts. This may throw off his future shooting success. When this happens, often a nasty mental looping effect occurs, which can further perpetuate the slump.

Imagine trying to “think away” a severely sprained ankle? This does not work because the underlying physical trauma of the sprained ankle needs to be addressed before progress can take place. A similar concept can be applied to the shooting slump.

At its core, the shooting slump is a mind-based thing caused by mental clutter. To eradicate the slump, the mental clutter must be cleaned up.

For this reason, increasing repetition, film study and analysis generally do not have a positive effect on solving the slump.

Leaning On Outside Counsel

Players often want to ask others for advice. If the player is self-aware enough to know that the slump is not purely physical, then asking for help on how to counteract the underlying mental clutter can be beneficial.

However, leaning on others’ opinions can also further exacerbate the issue. This is especially true when that outside influence suggests tinkering with mechanics and analyzing shot performance.

The risk here is if the initial outside counsel’s recommendations do not work, the player may have a hard time hearing, trusting and synthesizing relevant input in the future. Another issue here is, players can begin to lose faith in what they think is the correct way to proceed. This is the worst-case scenario because it can lead to the player feeling lost. This can then produce even more overthinking, or paralysis by analysis.

Closing

We still have a lot to learn about shooting slumps. However, considering how players have responded in the past, it is best to focus on the internal dynamics of the player first before addressing the slumping symptoms. This is the fastest way to bust the slump.

Jake Rauchbach is an Integrated Player Development Coach, specializing in High-Performance Mindfulness. He has coached professional and Division-1 basketball. He is the founder of The MindRight Pro® Program and consults on the Olympic, collegiate and professional levels. Follow him on Instagram @mindright_pro and twitter @mindrightpro

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