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How to Deal with the Downswings in Sports Betting

Pamela Maldonado explains how to deal with downswings in sports betting

No one has a 100 percent success rate in betting.  No one. If anyone claims they do, run!

It’s inevitable to see regression if you’ve been on an absolute heater or to experience a streak of losses that just seems like it will never end. The good news is that it does end, but the key is knowing how to handle the turbulence until it does.

Fortunately, I spoke with a performance psychology consultant – aka a mindset coach – on all things related to the emotion we feel after a string of losses and how to work our way back to a positive mindset.

Her motto: “Training you to master your mindset.” Yes, please! Here are three things I was able to learn from Dr. Tricia Cardner.

Why You Shouldn’t Lower Your Bet Sizing

First of all, lowering your bet sizing is not necessarily a bad thing as of course it does relate directly to bankroll management. When on a downswing in a $5/$10 poker game, it’s common to see players drop down to the $2/$5 to build up both their confidence and their bankroll to then make the jump back up to the bigger game.

In betting, if a one-unit play is $100, it would be safe to assume that after a bad run of losses, you’d want to change your one-unit size from $100 to maybe $50. But the question becomes if your strategy indicates that the correct play is being made and you aren’t making the same-size bet, is it then that your analysis is in fact sound, or are you instead lowering your size out of fear?

For example, I make one top-10 play in golf. The player finishes 11th. I make two top-20 bets and those two players finish 21st and 22nd. This is to show that the analysis is on point even though the outcome wasn’t ideal but I still choose to lower my bet sizing because the fear and doubt kick in. Recognize that’s what is happening and if your bankroll allows, continue with what you’ve been doing.

Dr. Cardner says that it really has nothing to do with the strategy but instead your brain activating a part of your senses that says, “I know it’s the correct move to make but I’m maybe a bit scared it won’t work out.”

Now, if you took a team to cover as a 7-point favorite and they lose outright by 20, then yes, recheck your analysis. But if you have a bunch of near misses, trust the process, as they say. It will come.

Don’t Ignore the Negativity

Our natural inclination is “I’m not going to think this negative thought” or that perhaps we’ve been trained to be positive at all times but that’s not how the mind works. If I told you to not think of a pink elephant, what happens is all you think about is that pink elephant. The more you are told not to think about it, the more you actually think about it. According to Dr. Cardner, it’s an example that shows thought control is not as effective as we think.

If you experience loss after loss and all you can think about is “I keep losing,” what you should do is recognize the feeling that it gives you, label that feeling and then do what ultimately calms you. So, you lose a bet. You recognize the feeling you are having (anger, sadness, disappointment, etc.), you label it as such and simply address it.

I lost and am now disappointed about that loss. Instead of reacting to that feeling, become detached from that feeling and have a plan for when that feeling occurs.

If I am feeling disappointed, I will (fill in the blank). Think of a plan and stick to it, whether it be meditating for five minutes, listening to a song that makes you want to dance, or doing a set of pushups. Whatever it is, utilize that as your go-to. Dr. Cardner suggests creating a power phrase, something that you can use to hype yourself up.

The point is to not let the emotion get the best of you. Instead, simply recognize it as an emotion and do something or say something that will keep you neutral.

The 6-2-7 Method

If you are staying within your bankroll, then betting shouldn’t be stressful. Losing still sucks, though, and as a result we might feel stressed anyway. 2020 was a crapshoot, and things are bound to happen – your tire has a flat and you need a new set of tires, an epic once-in-a-lifetime blizzard occurs in your city and you don’t have running water for seven days (hi, yeah, that happened), your child is sick and you need to miss work. Whatever it is, things happen and stress and anxiety could pop up because you know what, that’s life.

One way to combat the feeling of stress or to ease that feeling is by utilizing a 6-2-7 breathing pattern. You are essentially relaxing the brain by using deep breathing. Six counts in through the nose, hold for two, blow out for seven.

Breathe in through the nose as Dr. Cardner says that breathing in through the mouth actually increases stress and anxiety. But you can exhale through either the mouth or nose.

15 Seconds of Calm

That’s 15 seconds you are giving your mind to find a state of calm. The more stressed you are feeling, the more repetitions you do. Do this and you will notice that your blood pressure and heart rate will come back down. Use your power phrase or go-to activity that gives you a boost and boom! You are back to a calm, centered place.

It all sounds simple enough but having a good mindset is a mindful practice. Ultimately, it is about becoming aware of what triggers you and then finding something that prevents you from taking that negative feeling to another level. Whether it be an affirmation, breathing exercise, at-home workout or a good tune, find something that helps bring you balance.

The losses will happen but guess what, so will the wins. It’s just that the losses always loom larger than the gains. But that’s why we stick to bankroll management and keep record of our bets. Take a look back at your excel sheet or your app and I’m sure you’ll find that it’s never really as bad as you think.

Want to hear more from Dr. Tricia Cardner? You can find her on Twitter at @DrTriciaCardner.