Where does confidence come from?
„Go out there and be confident”. This is one of the most common words that players hear from their coaches before they step on the court to play a tournament match. Unfortunately, confidence is not the item as a racquet so we can’t just put it in our bag and have it with us all the time. As Wikipedia states: „confidence is generally described as a state of being certain either that a hypothesis or prediction is correct or that a chosen course of action is the best or most effective”. This explanation shows clearly that confidence is related to the mental side of the human being. Does it mean that we can only get this skill by spending 3 hours a day with the best psychologist on the planet? Of course not and this article will show you the ways to easily improve your performance by feeling positive about your actions.
Do we need confidence to be successful on the court? I am more than sure that without a confidence, you can’t achieve big results and keep them consistent. As you have heard many times, high-level tennis is a mental sport. Playing on the lowest levels of competition, you can easily beat your opponents by having better tennis strokes, running faster and making smarter tactical decisions. Looking at the top level with Federer and Nadal as the main characters, it is visible that they possess similar technical, tactical and physical skills so mental abilities is the area that makes a difference. The easiest way to explain to players the value of confidence is by showing accurate examples from the tennis world. To show the positive effect of being confident, ask your player how he felt when he had discovered that his opponent lost last 5 matches without winning a single gem. Did he feel confident to beat him? Of course he did. Our mind perceives this situation as an easy to face so there is no pressure on the player. On the other hand, to show the negative effect of lacking confidence, ask your player how he felt when he discovered that his opponent won the last 5 tournaments in a spectacular way. Did he feel confident to beat this star? I doubt he did. Again, our mind sees how difficult this situation will be so the pressure is here. These and thousands of other examples can simply show the player that he/she is going to face many situations where confidence or lack of it can have a big impact on the performance. Simple factors like clothes and environment or more complex ones like skills, experiences and results can decide if player will feel confident or not. How to do you use these factors in our favor? Check examples below to step on the court and perform your best tennis ever.
Prepare for being confident
Players feel more confident when they believe that they can successfully challenge particular obstacle. Running every day for the last 6 weeks is a good way to feel confident before running in a serious competition. The same rule is related to tennis. If we prepare our body (physical training), mind (mental training), strokes (technical training) and decisions (tactical training) we are going to be sure about our skills and this positive attitude will help to perform at the player’s best.
Remind great moments to take the confidence back
Even if you are struggling with your game for the past several weeks, it doesn’t mean that you can’t be confident on your next match. Before you step on the court, try to remind yourself of a big achievement that you have experienced in the past. Have you won with the opponent you are going to face in a moment? Have you played a great practice where everything was just going in? Have you heart a motivational phrase that makes you work hard as nothing else? All of us have those kinds of memories and we have to use them in our favor. We can’t live in the past but reminders from time to time can use the past to succeed in the present time.
Visualize your success
The power of visualization is more common nowadays than it was 10 years ago. Athletes around the world start to understand how creating positive actions in mind can easily be transferred to the real action in the future. Spending 10-20 minutes a day is not an amount of time that players don’t have so coaches should explain to players how to use visualization to get confidence for the next matches. To develop this mental ability of being sure about own skills, player should visualize himself in a situation that can be faced in the future. Closing eyes and visualizing proper strokes or winning the match against tough opponents, if done consistently, can make a big difference in player’s confidence.
In tennis and in life, confidence is really important to achieve personal best and have nothing to regret. Lack of confidence is simply an uncertainty of own abilities to face a difficult situation. To develop this mental trait, player should spend some time each day of getting better as also he/she should use different techniques to realize own value and possibilities. Coach, parents and the whole environment also pay a crucial role in player’s confidence. If everyone around the athlete is positive and emphasizes player’s hard work and strengths, it is easier for player to believe stronger in own skills. On the other hand, parents, who point out each loss and negatively approach player’s decrease of performance, don’t understand that they are partly responsible for this failures because they have an impact on player’s confidence. To finish this article, I would like to remind that tennis is a mental game so coaches should focus on mental side as much as they focus on technical or tactical aspects. Confidence is one of the most important mental traits according to the good or bad performance so level of this trait can determine the final result of the match.
About the Author
Marcin Bieniek is a tennis coach from Poland and a former professional player (Polish National Juniors Team). He is a certificated tennis coach by the Polish Tennis Coaching Association and the Professional Tennis Registry. Marcin has worked with many of the top 3 Polish Juniors and the top 60 players in the world.