Slump Buster - Contribute
The most organic way to bust out of a slump is quite simple - stop worrying about yourself, put the team first and find a way to contribute. No matter the athletic activity, there is a ton of value outside of being the highest scorer, best run producer or king of the court.
If the sun isn’t shining brightest on your during a particular day, week or season - lead the team in effort and hustle. This spark plug mentality is invaluable to any team setting and extremely contagious! By focusing on the team first you’ll be #1 in the hearts of your coaches, teammates and fans - and chances are you’ll develop some good mojo to help you escape the claws of slump.
Some of my fondest memories growing up were playing street ball with my brothers and buddies. This was where I developed a love to compete, because the games were always hard fought and closely contested. As the years went on these games grew few and far between; however, that didn’t change the quality of the games when we did play. Although none of us were as skilled as we were at one time, the competitive nature was still there, and this was evident by the intensity of the affairs.
During a particular pick-up basketball game during the holidays a few years back, my brothers - Joseph, Cameron, Taylor and I were battling it out for what has been minimized to an annual event - at best. As usual, the game was close, and while none us of us were setting the world on fire, my brother Cameron was particularly struggling with his shooting touch. Too much eggnog?
Trying to keep his composure and prevent his emotions from getting the best of him, I remember my brother doing whatever he could to help his team earn the “W.” This classic, gritty effort reached its pinnacle in the game’s waning moments, as Cameron caught a pass at the top of the key and prepared to shoot the game winner...
What happened next is engraved in the minds of every participant who was there that crisp December evening. Because when my brother let it fly, he whispered, “Contribute.”
As the ball rotated towards its promised land and potential game winning destination, those of us playing in the game were more concerned with the words coming out of my brothers mouth than the result of the potential winning shot.
“Did you say, contribute?” Asked my brother Joe.
“Yeah,” said an unusually sheepish Cam.
At that point we all hit the deck laughing. It was a great moment we’ll never forget. All stemming from a bunch of old guys playing ball in the driveway.
The shot? Nothing but the bottom of the net. No wonder it was a successful attempt, my brother was putting the team ahead of his own struggles. That’s good ball.
When looking back at my own “contribute” games, I think of being a wall as a catcher, laying a block to spring a touchdown or diving for as many loose balls as possible on the basketball court. Granted it may not have been as glamorous as hitting a home run, scoring a touchdown or sinking a three-pointer, but it was still very rewarding. And the icing on the cake? I had some battle scars to show for it.
Whether it’s a softball player breaking up a double play, a basketball player setting a strong screen or a hockey player competing with a more “goonish” temperament - there are multiple ways for a willing and able athlete to contribute.
Check out the entire "Slump Buster" series here: