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February 26, 2023

Slumps: Where They Come From, How to Beat Them

Jason Kramer

Slumps: Where They Come From, How to Beat Them

Slumps. That depressing time when your groove becomes a rut. If you haven’t been in a slump yet, don’t worry. Slumps happen to everyone no matter how long you train.

A slump is that time when you can’t put things together and everyone in the training room has your number. People that aren’t as good as you are hammering you. It’s when everyone around you seems to be on fire, training and competing well, and you can’t get traction.

Slumps happen to us all, regardless of whether we’re professionals or wreckreational players. Professionals are professionals because they work through them.  Lifers know that slumps are temporary and a part of the process. People that fail to see this often quit long before they find their potential.

Remember where Slumps come from

You could be putting too much pressure on yourself, or there is so much pressure in your life off the mat that you can’t execute when on the mat. Injuries, low self confidence, poor lifestyle and chasing new ideas can all get you there.

See it for what it is, and don’t get too wrapped around the axle. Remember, it’s not who you are that’s holding you back. It’s who you think you are.

The best part about slumps is that there is always, yes always, a huge learning curve at the other end. Enjoy the ride.

Focus on the process

Identify the small successes and what is working even if it didn’t achieve the desired outcome. Trying new things can put you in a slump, but it will ultimately elevate your game. Yeah, you’re the nail right now. That’s how it goes. Don’t dwell on it, and keep showing up.

Remember why you’re doing this. Identify the reasons you want to step on the mat or in the ring. Find what motivates you while recognizing that motivation, however great that is, is a lie.

Motivation is an emotion that can turn off as quickly as it comes on. You need to tap into your motivation and hitch it to your discipline. When you’re in the midst of a slump, which feels worse in BJJ and Muay Thai than it does at the chess club, remember this: embrace the suck.

You’ve done a lot of hard things in your life you take for granted and you are capable of whatever you set your mind to. Think about it. You learned how to walk, speak a language, read, drive a car, complex intellectual endeavors, how to make a great omelette, the best way to maximize an outcome and so much more. You can find that spark whenever you need it and forge ahead, no matter how dark the road gets.

Outcome bias

One of the poisons the slump will whisper sweetly into your ear is the outcome bias. We begin believing the fiction that our results are a direct consequence of our performance. While this is true, it is not absolute. Consider that time you tried something, at the right time for the right reason and with the right technique, but you failed to get the outcome you were looking for. The combination failed. The sweep wasn’t there. The angle didn’t happen.

Whatever it is, we tend to fixate on the outcome and ignore all the successes in the process. The inverse is true too. Sometimes we do stupid things we did because we were successful, and if we’re not humble and intelligent enough to see this, we risk becoming arrogant. We risk being unable to see why that same method isn’t working consistently, and we become frustrated.

We become frustrated because our causes and effects don’t line up, and we’re missing it. As hard as it can be when we’re in the middle of a slump and getting smoked by everyone, you’ve got to sing like Elsa and let it go.


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