Don’t Panic: How to Bounce Back from a Slow Start

It’s not how you start; it’s how you finish. I often share this with teams. Unfortunately, sometimes you give up an early lead. The teams that are able to come back are the ones that don’t panic – easier said than done. Let me show you how to keep the wheels from coming off.

Playing from Behind, Get Off to a Slow Start, Slow Starts, Overcoming an Early Deficit, Bouncing Back, Regroup, Circle the Wagons, Don’t Panic, Thoughts Drive Performance, Sport Psychology, Coach Education, Coach Development, Mental Toughness, Resilience, Team Culture, Culture Development, Team Cohesion, Motivation, Personal Development, Mental Conditioning, Cognitive Performance, Mental Training, Mental Game, Mindset

Mr. Slow Starter

Early in my college tennis career I often started matches off slow. I got behind and had to fight my way back into the match.

When I got behind my mentality only made matters worse. I would get frustrated, critical of myself, and lose confidence. It was as if each point carried added weight and importance. This increased my anxiety and further sabotaged my performance.

My slow starts made for an uphill battle. Fortunately, I learned to adjust my warm up and improved my mental toughness to help prevent slow starts.

4 Tactics to Regroup After a Slow Start

If your athlete or team starts off slow, use these 4 tactics to help them regroup and keep their heads in the game.

1. Stay Calm

When athletes panic, anxiety and physiological activation go up. This prevents your players from being composed, making good decisions, and playing their best.

2. Focus on the Present Moment

This is what it means to play one game, pitch, point, or play at a time.

When athletes focus on the past or future during the game their attention is divided. They become distracted. They aren’t fully focused on the task at hand.

Focusing on the present means athletes aren’t stuck on past mistakes or worrying about the future outcome.

3. Ignore the Scoreboard 

There is no benefit to athletes paying attention to the scoreboard. It causes them to put more value on each play, pitch, or moment.

Athletes who put more emphasis on certain plays tend to experience unnecessary anxiety, muscle tension, and choking under that pressure.

4. Remain Optimistic

Coaches often inspire their teams with phrases like, “Never give up.”

Perhaps without recognizing the connection, coaches are encouraging their players to be optimistic. This is a critical mentality for athletes.

Research shows that those with optimism are more likely to persevere when facing adversity (i.e., slow start), play better under pressure, and simply out-perform their less optimistic counterparts.

Circle the Wagons 

If your team gets off to a slow start, it’s time to circle the wagons and win a comeback. The bottom line is for your athletes to maintain their confidence and composure, and focus on the task at hand. This is what it takes to regroup after a slow start and perform their best regardless of the circumstances.

Question: How else can you help your team bounce back from a slow start?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below, or on Facebook or Twitter.

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