How Venus Williams Overcame Self-Doubt

Tennis Confidence

Overcome Self-Doubt To Play Confident Tennis

Venus Williams advanced to the final at the 2017 Australian Open, her first major final appearance since 2008.

Despite her age of 36, not winning a major since Wimbledon in 2008, not equaling the success of her younger sister (Serena) and dealing with an autoimmune disease for the last six years, Venus refuses to allow circumstances to taint her thinking with negativity.

After losing in the 2017 Australian Open finals to her sister, Venus boldly stated she is ready for a successful WTA season.

VENUS: “Ready to kill it this year. That’s my goal. Who goes into the year and says, ‘Oh, my God, it’s not going to be a good year?’ Who says that? Not me.”

Venus poses a great question:

“Who goes into a season telling themselves it will be a bad year before they step on the court for a season-opening match?”


The story of negative thinking often unfolds like this…

Sally is a novice tennis player.

She loves tennis but is not as strong as some of her competitors and she is a little on the short side. Sally plays well until she faces a player who is slightly more talented.

Sally doesn’t even give herself a chance to win. Even before warm-up, Sally thinks, “I can’t beat her.”

“Her ground strokes are too powerful and she runs down and returns every ball. I could never beat someone that good.

Anyway, my serve stinks. I can barely get my first serve in and my second serve, if I am lucky enough to get it in, is just a lob serve that everyone returns for a winner.”

Unless Sally can overcome her self-doubt, she will never feel confident or ready enough to perform her best in the match.

In fact, self-doubt affects your performance in a number of ways. It:

  1. Produces unhealthy and unproductive negative emotions such as anger, anxiety, frustration, helplessness and irritability.
  2. Drains your energy making you feel sluggish and mentally fatigued.
  3. Prevents you from taking advantage of the opportunities right in front of you and reduces your effort on each point in a match.
  4. Causes you to prepare less, practice haphazardly and creates a defeatist attitude.
  5. Dries up your enthusiasm for the game of tennis and zaps your motivation.

The biggest problem with self-doubt is that it is a waste of time. Negative thinking only undermines confidence, and the worst part about it is that most of those negative thoughts are over-blown.

Self-doubt is often lies tennis players use to have an excuse for failure.

Self-doubt is like playing tennis without a racquet, you have no chance to perform your best.

You are probably saying:

“I can’t just be positive or confident. Anyway, telling myself I’m going to win is a bigger lie.”

Confident thinking is not a matter of pumping up yourself with unrealistic demands.

Confident thinking is a matter of giving yourself credit for your abilities and understanding that you cannot predict the future with 100 percent certainty.

If outcomes are not predetermined, why not just go for it… Just like Venus is planning to do in 2017.

So, choose your thoughts wisely. And you do have control over your thoughts.

Strategies For Developing Positive Self-Talk

Journal your thoughts about tennis – Count how many negative thoughts or doubts you have in a ten minute period prior to or during matches. Your goal is to reduce that number over the course of a week.

One effective way of reducing self-doubt is to consciously rebut them with prepared confident statements (or your own comebacks, if you will). Remind yourself of your strengths.

Practice reframming your doubts until you’ve uncovered them all. The next time you notice you are doubting your ability, use your new reframe or personal comeback.

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