How Can Tennis Players Feel Confident?
Hall of Famer Yogi Berra once said, “Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical.”
While he was specifically talking about his own sport, this thought process applies to basically every sport on Earth, especially tennis. It doesn’t matter how much prep work you’ve done prior to a match or tournament – if you don’t trust your preparation process or have confidence that you’ll be successful, you probably won’t be.
Some tennis players are born confident, and others have to work at it over a long period of time. In order to improve someone’s confidence, it’s necessary to identify where these sources of confidence come from. Here are nine sources of confidence for tennis players (or any athlete, really):
- Coach leadership (knowing your coach will make good decisions)
- Demonstration of ability (showing that you’re capable of winning)
- Mastery (improving your skills)
- Social support (getting encouraged by your coach or family)
- Environmental comfort (feeling comfortable on the court)
- Situational favorableness (feeling as though everything is going right)
- Physical/Mental preparation (and also staying focused on your goals)
- Physical self-presentation (feeling as though your body looks good)
- Vicarious experience (seeing friends perform well)
These sources of confidence can be grouped into three main categories, which are achievement (the actual outcome), self-regulation (the preparation part), and climate (when they feel comfortable, supported, and motivated by the environment around them).
As mentioned before, confidence isn’t always an innate trait that people are born with. It takes a lot of hard work for many athletes to always give off an aura of confidence. It’s especially important for tennis players since it’s a single-person sport – the eventual success or failure solely depends on their own performance.
Two ways to help build up your self-confidence on the court includes positive self-talk and visualizing your success before it even happens.
Your words and thoughts have more power than you realize. Something as simple as thinking positively and confidently throughout a match – no matter how good or bad things are going at the moment – will translate to the rest of your body. The more you say it to yourself, the more you’ll believe it. It’s impossible to change what happened in the past, whether it’s a match, a point, or something else. All you can focus on is what happens next.
Visualization is another form of thinking positively before you’re in the middle of a crucial match or point. Many athletes use this as part of their match/game day preparation by picturing themselves successfully carrying out an event, action, strategy, or play. If you’ve had trouble getting your serve over, this would be the perfect time to envision yourself effortlessly nailing serves left and right against your opponent.
Every successful athlete is confident in what they do and how they do it. However, it’s important to remember that not everyone is born confident. Some seem to be, but many have needed a lot of practice to get to where they are today. Start taking the steps to build your own self-confidence on the court and join them!