Can what you expect keep you stuck in losing streak?
A slump or losing streak starts as nothing unusual. Every athlete and team occasionally experiences bad games or unproductive performances.
So, what turns a few bad games into a performance rut? What commonalities trap a player or team in a cycle of under performance?
If you can identify a common element to losing streaks, you could more easily find a solution, interrupt the loop, and break out of the slump.
Let’s look at what happens during a slump… Thoughts and expectations perpetuate losing streaks. You expect the worse.
You focus on thoughts during the competition, such as:
- “Here we go again.”
- “Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse.”
- “Another loss heading my way.”
After a loss, you continue the negativity by saying:
- “I knew I wasn’t going to win.”
- “It doesn’t matter anyway. I’m already having a losing season.”
- “Chalk up one more in the loss column.”
You predict a loss, and then when you lose, you use the loss as evidence to support your pessimistic prediction.
In this example, losing isn’t the bad habit. The counterproductive habit is your negative thinking and expectations.
A habit is a consistent tendency or something you do often and regularly, sometimes without being aware. Since many of our habits are unconscious, it may be difficult to give up…especially bad habits.
You need to expose your unconscious and counterproductive thoughts to break or replace the bad habit.
When you become aware of how your habitual thoughts and expectations are hurting your performance, you can start consciously replacing those thoughts with positive, enhancing thoughts.
The Edmonton Elks of the Canadian Football League set the mark for the longest home-losing streak in North American pro sports.
The Elks lost 21 consecutive home games stretching back to Oct. 12, 2019. The Elks’ 21st loss was a shutout by the B.C. Lions, 27-0. In the game, Edmonton committed 13 penalties for 177 yards.
Elks quarterback Taylor Cornelius commented on the team’s frustration and hinted at an underlying expectation for negative results.
CORNELIUS: “(Frustration) is at an all-time high right now. The first half, we get behind the sticks with penalties, it seemed like every drive it was something. And then to come out in the second half and still not put up any points for a second game in a row against these guys [B.C. Lions] is just crazy, man.”
Frustration is a sign that you feel like you are not meeting your expectations.
Identifying the warning signs of negative expectations and thoughts is half the battle of getting back on track.
Challenging your negative expectations or over generalizations is the first step in breaking free from losing streaks.
For example, when you become aware of the thought, “Here we go again… Another loss,” ask yourself, “Is this a reality? Am I doomed to be stuck in this rut long-term?”
Over generalizations and expectations can keep you stuck in a negative cycle of thinking your performances will not return to normal.
Free yourself from losing streaks and performance slumps by rationalizing the validity of your expectations and over generalizations.
Related Sports Psychology Articles
- The Mindset to Perform at a Higher Level
- Having Fun While Performing at Your Best
- The Importance of Mental Toughness
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