When asked about his play during an 0-7 outing against the Angels in May, David Ortiz’s answer was short and to the point. “Just put down ‘Papi stinks”. The Red Sox Sluggers’ struggles at the plate have been well publicized this season, as he’s hitting only .197 with 2 home runs – not the numbers Sox fans are normally used to from their DH. Sport psychologist Dana Sinclair offered an opinion on slumps among elite athletes: “Top-level guys know what they’re doing. When you get down to it, they know how to hit, they just start to think about too many things and try to do too much and try too hard. It’s a process of getting them from distracted thinking to normal performance characteristics.”
Some theorize the problems for Ortiz are all mental, some think they are related to a wrist injury from last year, and some think he’s just getting older. Common work with ‘overthinking’ athletes includes relaxation techniques, always trying to think positive, and narrowing the mental focus to one specific area.
Whatever the cause of his problems is, most experts agree on one thing regarding Ortiz – he is an excellent hitter at the core, and needs to find some way, any way, to get back to his natural form and technique without getting in his own way. Have you struggled with cold streaks or slumps in your athletic or coaching career? Comment on your experiences and ways of breaking the slump below.