Novak Djokovic has been dominating men’s tennis over the past year or so and this year Victoria Azarenka appears to be dominating women’s Tennis. These two players are obviously full of confidence at the moment and it really shows on the court.
But what exactly is confidence and more importantly where does it come from and what does that mean for your tennis game ? Let’s take a look at these questions and hopefully clear up some misconceptions about confidence.
What Confidence Is
Researching this online I found a few different definitions for the term confidence. Here are a few that seem to make sense in our context:
Definitions Of Confidence:
- Belief in oneself and one’s power or abilities (dictionary.com)
– A feeling of assurance; especially self-assurance (thefreedictionary.com)
– The state or quality of being certain (answers.com)
To me confidence really comes down to trust in your own abilities. I am sure all of you have experienced that feeling of walking on the court knowing deep down that you are playing well at the moment and therefore you are very confident that you will win the match!
It is a great feeling and one of the reasons we play Tennis. It simply makes us feel good to master a difficult skill and apply it in competition.
Where Confidence Comes From
There is only one real source for confidence in Tennis and that is winning!
Once you start winning a lot of matches on a regular basis you will become very confident. The more you win the more trust you will develop in your own abilities to solve problems which we saw earlier is the definition of confidence. You can only be really confident if you have proven to yourself that you win matches!
Now you might be thinking how the hell does that help me ? I can’t just start winning more matches to get more confidence.
In order to win a lot of matches you need one other thing and that is skills. Skills are the key to getting more confidence and fortunately everybody can work on improving their tennis skills!
So Basically Confidence Works Like This:
Better Skills = More Wins = More Confidence
Djokovic And Azarenka
So where does all that confidence come from for these two players ? These two players have developed phenomenal tennis skills over the years which allowed them to win so many matches and gain such high confidence.
Azarenka and Djokovic both have great technical skills, great athleticism, they are strong mentally and they both play smart high-percentage aggressive Tennis!
The combination of how strong you are in all these areas is what will determine how much confidence you have in your Tennis game in the long run because these skills will determine how many matches you win!
If You Have Low Confidence
What if you don’t have confidence at the moment and you are not playing well ? A lack of confidence can feel really bad and it is definitely something you need to watch out for as a tennis player.
Players in that situation often hear advice like: Just try to be more confident and things will get better. In most cases this advice does not help though and players can go into a downward spiral.
Contrary to popular belief low confidence in and of itself is usually not the problem. In most cases there is a lack of certain skills that is the problem and that has led to this situation of low confidence!
About 6 months ago I started working with a 16-year old girl that is ranked inside the Top5 in her age group in Germany. When she came to me her confidence was at an all-time low and previous coaches believed that her bad results were simply a result of low confidence.
The situation turned out to be quite different though. This girl had a very weak backhand and until recently was always able to hide that weakness by simply looping the ball back high to the baseline with her backhand and running around to hit as many forehands as possible.
The reason she was struggling so much at the moment was that her opponents were now older and hitting the ball harder. As a result she could not run around her backhand as much anymore and opponents were also punishing those loopy shots a lot more and even taking them out of the air. It was only a matter of time until her lack of skills caused this situation of low confidence!
So what we did was take her out of tournaments and start working on improving the necessary skills. After working on a better backhand she started winning more and more matches and now her confidence is back.
What This Means For Your Game
There are no shortcuts in Tennis. You need to work hard on your skills if you want to start winning and always keep this equation in mind:
Better Skills = More Wins = More Confidence
Sometimes it takes a while but if you develop the right skills you will eventually start winning and then you will get some true confidence!