Pro Tennis Psychology: Do You Believe?

Your mind game or positive tennis psychology is critical for success in tennis. The most common issue I encounter as a mental game coach and tennis psychology expert is the tennis player who lacks confidence. I’m not talking about the arrogant player that uses intimidation to scare off competition, shouts at officials, or gets into fights with players because he can’t keep his ego (or temper) in check.

The self-confidence I’m talking about is a silent self-confidence in tennis, a belief in your own ability. My definition of self-confidence is how firmly you believe in your ability to execute your strokes in tennis. That’s right–confidence is how much YOU believe in YOUR ability.

Confidence comes from an assessment of past performances, training, and tennis preparation. As your tennis competency or skill mastery grows, your confidence becomes proportionately stronger. You can also derive confidence from the belief that you are physically talented, which mirrors the definition of confidence—“A feeling of assurance, especially of self-assurance” (Source: Successful training and quality practice both help to create a strong sense of self-confidence.

Confidence is the driving force behind a tennis player’s performance. Confidence is boosted, when you win matches, of course. Conversely, confidence declines when you lose matches or under perform based on your expectations.

WTA player Jelena Jankovic recently advanced to the 2008 US Open Finals, which was her first grand slam final of her career. She attributed much of her success in getting to the finals this year because she was able to believe in herself

“Mentally, I feel I’m a lot stronger, because I really believe in myself. I really want to do this, and it’s about time for me to make that step forward to break that barrier. I want to win a Grand Slam, and this is why I came here.”
~ Jelena Jankovic, 2008 US Open Finalist

Which comes first: winning or believing you can win? Confidence surely comes from playing well and winning. We know that winning breads confidence for most tennis players. But you also have to find the self-confidence to win matches too.

I always tell my mental game students… Don’t wait until you win your first game of the set, first match, or even first tournaments to believe in yourself, otherwise you might not win that first tournament!