5 Things to Do When You Don’t Feel Like an All Pro Dad

As a sport, baseball can be tough on one’s self esteem. Not only does a hitter have a fraction of a second to judge a pitch and choose his swing, but he’s also still got to hit the ball past a team of players wearing the equivalent of oven mitts. No wonder the best players only get a hit one out of three at bats, and they often hit slumps where they’ll go multiple games without getting a hit.

Knowing that slumps are going to come, there are certain tactics a professional athlete will employ when things aren’t going the way he wants them to. Some of these might also be helpful encouragement for all pro dads who feel like they are in a slump. Here are 5 things to do when you don’t feel like an all pro dad.

1. Keep showing up.

Wayne Gretzky is the greatest player in hockey history and is often quoted as saying “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” What he means is that even if you haven’t scored in a while, you still need to show up and play the game. For a dad this means getting out of bed each morning and engaging with your kids every chance you get. It might be that the next effort is the one that reconnects you with your kids.

2. Get back to the basics.

Athletes who are in a slump will focus on the basic skills that have made them successful. In the same way as a baseball player on a cold streak might spend extra time in batting practice, a dad who’s not feeling it can get back to basics. Get on your knees and play with your kids. Offer to help with their homework, or just generally spend time around them.

3. Focus on the things you can control.

The best athletes don’t spend time making excuses for slumps, blaming teammates, the officials, the schedule, or the weather. They instead worry about the things they can control: their effort, their attitude, and the mechanics of their sport. You can’t control your daughter’s attitude, your work schedule, or other things going on in your lives. Focus on what you can control: your effort, your attitude, and your willingness to be present to your kids to the best of your ability.

4. Change things up.

Professional athletes are notorious for sticking to routines. On game day, they have a time to get up, a specific meal they eat, and a pair of “lucky” socks they might refuse to wash. When a slump drags on, there’s nothing they won’t consider changing. For a dad in a slump, it might be time to change things up. Get up earlier or stay up later with your son. Plan a mid-week adventure rather than waiting for the weekend. Try a no rules night and see what happens.

5. Find a skills coach.

Players who are slumping will often look for help from a skills coach, someone who can help identify and correct things in them that are out of sync. Dads can reach out for extra help from friends, mentors, therapists, or pastors to help us deal with those areas of our lives that don’t measure up. Let someone else look at the places you’re struggling and help you to make some changes.

Sound off: What’s some other encouragement for all pro dads who need a boost?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What do you do when you feel like things aren’t going well?”