Kurume, Japan May 16th with temperature registered at 30º C (86º F) and feels like 38º C (100º F) with humidity and the UV index at 9 out of 11. It’s blistering hot. The wind is swirling like a sandstorm making the match more like a survival game than a tennis match. Toppled that with a lot of bad line calls. It’s downright frustrating. To say it’s a challenge is an understatement.
As challenging as these conditions might be, they are a lightweight compared to when one feels lost with their confidence. In my opinion, confidence is not something you lose once it’s acquired. It may be hidden with a lack of practice, but not lost.
I was watching a match the other day where a non-seeded player was playing against the number 1 seed in the tournament. The non-seeded player was up a set and a break in the latter part of the second set playing great tennis until it was time to close. She loses the second set and a one-sided third set. One minute she was playing brilliantly with full of confidence and the next completely lost her way. Her travel companion turned to me and proceeded to tell me that she’s been struggling with her confidence.
So, the question is how do you tap into a hidden confidence? Here are three key points.
1. Setting objectives & plans
Pinpoint what your player needs. Is it tactics? Should they return down the middle to cut down return errors? Is it a higher % of first serves win? Is it to return earlier against second serves? If you want to tap into that hidden confidence, this step of setting up objectives is crucial. You need to narrow down on the specifics of the things that need attention and to have a clear idea of the what and the how. Most people can see what’s wrong but not everyone knows how to fix things.
2. Keep track
After putting the objectives and plans in motion, you’d want to keep track of the progress following each practice session or a match. You can keep track either by using a scale of 1 to 10 or by percentages. Whichever method you chose, it needs to be consistent. Tracking, in addition to making sure all involved are on the same page, it helps to keep everyone focused on the things that need attention. When things are not going well, it is easy to generalize and contaminate the other parts of the game. Once a level of competency is achieved, you are ready to move into the third stage and that is to set new objectives.
3. Set new objectives
When you and your player arrive in this third step your player should be feeling better about his/ her game. They are inspired and motivated to train harder. It is important to set new objectives periodically to keep things fresh and to constantly work on improving.
Confidence is like a stroke. You spent hours upon hours mastering the skill. You might get rusty when you don’t practice it but it comes back with practice. It’s there on the sideline. You just need to pinpoint which stroke needs to be worked on. It is that simple!