Confidence - The Assurance of Self
Confidence is not a term strictly associated with Tennis by no means. It is a factor of life that one gains or loses. You can be confident about certain aspects of your life or deed or you can lack confidence. Within the World of Tennis however, confidence is very important. When you strike a ball, you are going to hit it with confidence or you're going to hit it with a feeling that you might flub the shot if you go for too much so maybe you had better pull back a bit.
We have a sort of team tennis setting at school. I pair the kids up and there's a point system in place and stuff like that. I look for many things during play and one of the factors I watch for is if the Player is playing with confidence. In other words, I watch to see if one of my kids is going for their shots or just doing enough to get the ball back over the Net. If I gather the latter, they get pulled from that round. I tell my kids, I'd rather see the ball fly over the fence when you were going for your big forehand inside out top spin shot then you hitting the ball as if you were afraid to put too much into it. I know that if you are having problems pulling the ball down on your top spin shots, that can be corrected but hitting the ball as if you are afraid of making a mistake, is not something we can correct. That is something within your head that you have to correct.
Words you will hear the Coaches say constantly is "Swing Out - Let it Rip - Go For it"
So all I can say is, when you're playing a match that you really want to win badly, you may have a tendency to put too much pressure on yourself to play conservatively. If you are playing a competent opponent, they will eat you up. Read my signature All it means is, try not to beat yourself win playing in any competition. Do your best to bring your game from beginning to end and if you still get beat, then your opponent was better. If you lose because you patty caked the ball and pulled back on your shots to a point where your opponent slammed winners at you all day long or you failed to hit with follow through that brings the ball down on top spin shots because you weren't sure if you could make the shot or not, then you lost because you lacked confidence.
If you made a certain shot in the pass, then you can do it again. Simple as that. If you served an ace out wide or down the center at least once, then you can do it again. Anything you tried to do on the Court that turned out successful and went as you planned, then you now have that in your list of weapons just sitting there waiting for you to use again.
If yo lose a Tennis Match, that's all that happens, you lost a Tennis match. Nothing else happens. Nobody gets hurt. The World doesn't come to an end.
World Peace is not dependent on you winning or losing. You walk over, shake the person's hand and tell them, "good game" and you go home. Hopefully you reflect on what you did or didn't do that resulted in a loss and try to correct that but if you lose because you lacked confidence and you dont' correct that, you will lose again and again until you go out there with a feeling that you are going to play your best game win or lose.
When I'm down 0-40 serving, I never panic because I have confidence on my serve. I always feel I can get back to deuce just with a couple of well placed serves. I don't build my game around my serve but I know that my serve is pretty good and if I'm down, then I concentrate on getting back on track with that part of my game.
Andy Roddick, Pete Sampras, Roger Federer, Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, they all had that gift of knowing when in trouble, all they need to do is pop a few good serves in and their back in it again and because they have that confidence in their serve, that's exactly what happens more than not.
If your serve isn't strong, then practice your serve. Take a bucket of balls down to the court and hit serves until your arm is tired. If you don't have good technique with the serve, then first get someone to help you figure it out because you don't want to hit a 100 bad servers.
Pay attention to where your serves are going. That will tell the story on what you need to work on. If you are having problems with your serve. Let us know where most of your serves are going and we'll try to offer some help.