Cibulkova: Confidence is More Important Than Size

Tennis Psychology

Is Your Success Controlled By Your Body?

There are ideal body types that seem to be optimal for tennis. At the elite level, tennis players’ body types become quite similar.

How then can a tennis player with a different body type compete at the elite level?

While certain body types provide an advantage, there is more to success than mere physical attributes. Success consists of a combination of factors and no athlete possesses every quality. While physical size matters, the more important quality is the size of an athlete’s belief.

Dominika Cibulkova, 24 year-old Slovakian tennis player, is currently ranked 20th and is headed into her first Grand Slam final at the Australian Open. Cibulkova’s path to the finals included upsets over 16th seed Carla Suarez Navarro (third round), 3rd seed Maria Sharapova (fourth round), 11th seed Simona Halep (quarterfinals) and a dominant victory, 6-1 6-2, over 5th seed Agnieszka Radwanska (semifinals).

More impressive than Cibulkova’s recent upset victories is her height of 5-foot-3-inches. Last year, the women’s grand slam winners were all 5′ 6″ or taller and only 3 players in the top 100 are shorter than Cibulkova.

Cibulkova’s play provides a counter argument that physical stature is a required element to succeed in tennis. In fact, Cibulkova needed only one hour and 10 minutes for her semifinal victory and set up her match against Li Na, who will be in her third Australian Open final. Cibulkova commented that the size of a player’s belief is more critical to success than his or her height:

“It’s not about how tall you are. It’s just you have to really believe in it [your ability to succeed]. There is nothing more important than this.”

How is Cibulkova able to believe despite her height disadvantage?

For one, Cibulkova stays focused in the present. Cibulkova was able to forget past history (her previous year loss to Radwanska 6-0 6-0) and stay in the present to turn the tables with her 2014 Australian Open victory over Radwanska. Cibulkova was able to stick to her strategy despite her 20 unforced errors:

‘‘Even if I made mistakes, I knew I had to go out there and go for my shots.”

Another reason for Cibulkova’s positive belief is that she focuses on her strengths. American tennis player, Chanda Rubin who is only 5-foot-6-inches tall, credits Cibulkova’s success to her ability to take advantage of her strengths:

“But when you see a player get to this level and see what she’s achieved, it’s because she’s able to minimize any deficiencies and has those special skills — the speed, the ability to create a little extra power even if she’s not as tall, the ability to compete.”

It boils down to the old saying:

“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”

You, too, can increase the size of your beliefs by:

  • focusing on yours strengths
  • controlling only the factors you can control
  • letting go of mistakes
  • staying focusing on the present

If you increase your belief in yourself, you will win more matches.

To improve your confidence, please check out our tennis psychology coaching programs.

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