A Psychological Analysis Of Athletic Performance Slumps.

1192 words - 5 pages

There are very few people that can say they've gone through their entire athletic career without ever experiencing defeat. It is only natural to have days and events where you do not perform your best, but what happens when these "temporary losses of form" don't seem to disappear? When an athlete is going through a period of poor performance the media refers to it as a "slump". Each athlete's slump is unique, but they all involve a decline in the expected performance. There has been much debate over the causes and solutions to performance slumps. Where and when they occur is just as puzzling as why they occur. Although difficult to explain, perhaps the best way to combat slumps is to understand them better.In order to have a better understanding of slumps, it is necessary to define exactly what a slump is. Perhaps the best expression in regards to an athlete experiencing a slump is "having a monkey on your back." The athlete carries the slump like a weight that cannot seem to be lifted. There are some general characteristics that slumps seem to share. It would appear that slumps are unavoidable in competition overtime (Madden, Summers and Brown, 1990). Also, the cause for the change (deterioration) in performance is unknown/unclear (if it were evident then it could be rectified). Finally, every slump is unique and dependent on the individual athlete (Taylor 1991). A slump is "an unexplained decline in performance from a previously determined baseline level of a particular athlete that extends longer than would be unexpected from normal cyclic variation in performance in a given sport," (Taylor 1988). Now that a workable definition of the term slump has been defined it is possible to address the identification and the cause of performance slumps.To identify a slump the following criteria must be present. First, an average performance comparison must be calculated. The current performance level should be significantly less than the normal performance. Secondly, plot the normal ups and downs that should be expected in the athlete's performance. These "cyclic variations" are normal and must not be confused with slumps. Finally, the cause of decline should be unknown. If all three are present, then it is a true slump (Taylor 1991).Conflicting theories are put forward to the causes of performance slumps. First, is a psychological view, that sees the athlete's problem lies within his/her own mind. Second, is a physiological view, where the problem exists in the performance of the body. Probably the best way to look at slumps is they are a combination of the two.There may be many reasons or causes for a performance slumps, but almost all can be grouped into four categories. The first is the physical side, which may be difficult to diagnose. Fatigue from overtraining or over competing can cause problems. A second cause may be in the technical area. The athlete's technique for physically playing the sport can affect the performance and take time to...

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