WHAT IS CONFIDENCE?
Although it is difficult to accurately explain exactly what confidence is, we certainly know when we have it… and we know when we have lost it!
Confidence is not an object or a piece of equipment. You cannot put Confidence inside a box or hold it in your hand. Confidence is a state of mind. It’s a belief we ourselves have created inside us.
We can be confident about our strokes, our ability to beat certain players, our chance of winning on a particular surface and when we play with “hometown advantage” and the support for us is greater.
Similarly, we can lack confidence in our strokes, our ability to beat certain players, our chance of winning on particular surfaces and when we play “away from home” where the support for us is less.
Confidence is something many players and their coaches strive to develop. Having confidence before you go into the match is deemed a good thing and virtually insures that you will play to the best of your ability or close to your best.
WHY DO WE PLAY BETTER WITH CONFIDENCE?
The sayings’ “We are what we think” and “Your perception is your reality” go a long way to explain why we play much better when we are confident. With belief we have an inner confidence that what we attempt to do, will transpire.
Belief comes before Confidence
Our minds can be incredibly strong. If we believe something is true or will happen, there is a high chance that it will.
Likewise, if we believe that something will or cannot happen, there’s a high chance it will not happen.
It’s therefore obvious that in order to be mentally strong in tennis you need to be rock solid in your self-belief when you compete in matches. A mind that allows itself to become insecure regarding strokes, the type of surface you play on or the opponent you are competing against, will most certainly not be Confident!
WHY CAN WE LOSE CONFIDENCE SO EASILY?
If you accept that Confidence is a mindset, a belief, this means we can believe we have confidence, and that we can also believe we have lost it!
Confidence therefore can be a roller coaster of playing matches with it and without it. Confidence materializes within us when we have a run of success, and disappears within seconds after a few errors.
The problem therefore is in the belief that confidence exists at all. The problem is self-made because we have brought into the myth that Confidence exist at all, and that therefore after having made a few errors, we must have lost it!
This is how the belief starts in your head that you have “lost your confidence”. Remember, “We are what we think” and “Your perception is your reality”.
Better to forget this whole notion of a mythical Confidence nirvana. It’s a fragile mindset and unsustainable.
By not accepting the existence of Confidence, and not trying to depend so much on it to help boost you mentally, you will no longer ride the “confidence roller coaster” in competitive matches.
CAN CONFIDENCE BE TRAINED?
If we accept that Confidence is merely a state of mind, perhaps we should also be less concerned about trying to train it. Trying to train it might in fact be taking us down a path whereby “real” preparation for matches is being neglected.
Here’s what I mean…
Many players like to hit hundreds of balls in an attempt to prepare for up-coming matches. They attempt to “groove” their strokes. These players feel mentally more confident once they are timing the ball better and the process of doing repetition drills also helps them to get rid of pre-match nerves. In my opinion this repetition training, or grooving your strokes, is nothing more than a placebo effect.
After hitting hundreds of back-hands in practice your back-hand begins to “feel” much better and therefore you feel much more confident… But let’s look at what you have actually done during those hundreds of back-hands you just hit.
All you have done is “grooved” the mechanics of the back-hand. Nothing more!
In a competitive situation you will be required to:
1. Anticipate where the ball is going
2. Coordinate your movement to the ball
3. Make decisions on where you want to hit the ball
4. Make decisions on how you want the ball to go there
5. Create a method of recovering to the next shot
That’s a lot of areas you haven’t covered in your practice session when you were hitting hundreds of back-hands!
Most players spend hours hitting ball feeds, knocking with other players, doing unrelated stroke bio-mechanics and then when we are in an actual match, they find the requirements are completely different!
In my experience players who train in this way begin to break down at a certain stage of the match, usually while under pressure. When this happens, the reason given for the collapse in form is that the player “lost confidence”.
Try to eliminate your dependence on the placebo style of preparing for matches. The placebo effect will wear out within the match itself and leave you with nothing to fall back on. It’s the cause of a lot of frustration for players around the world.
Instead, turn your attention to a more solid foundation. Focus on ANTICIPATION making DECISIONS on MOVEMENT, WHERE TO HIT THE BALL, HOW TO HIT THE BALL and RECOVERY
I deal with these topics in detail and how to better prepare for matches using a much more reliable method called “THE 3am THEORY”.
Click on the link at the top to go to this, and other topics explaining how you can prepare for match-play far more effectively in the future.