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How to Get a Jump When You’re in a Slump

Your quality of play is cyclical. You improve, you play well, the ball is the size of a volleyball, you see it well, you can hit anything. Then gradually, and sometimes not so gradually, it all slips away. Where did it go? How do you get it back?

First, accept it as normal. All players have crests and troughs in their games. You’re only as good as you are on your worst day, so you have to manage the damage of your worst day and not stay in a funk for any length of time.

Second, don’t complain. It’s not the ball, the court surface, the lights or the wind, although any of these could be a factor. More likely they contribute to the problem but are not the cause. For example, if you’re not watching the ball closely, the wind will magnify your problems. If you’re not preparing early, a fast surface can be punishing.

Third, you need a plan. You’re stale. Your game is sloppy. You’re frustrated. The plan is to go back to basics—footwork, watching the ball, early preparation. Yeah, yeah, yeah, but that’s not enough.

Fourth, implement that plan. Work on a new shot. To get out of a funk you need to have the same enthusiasm you had in the beginning. When you work on a new shot, you watch the ball closely. You get into position. You’re eager. Problems go away.

Finally, incorporate your new shot into your game. Experiment with a new return. Learn to lob. Drive the third shot. Learn to drop volley. Work on a sharp angle. You’re a better player now. You’re more versatile and your game is on the rise once again.

Being constructive is the key to working out of a slump. Fixing the problem is up to you. Don’t blame external conditions. The good news is that it’s a fun and relatively easy fix.

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