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Confidence: Achieving It and Keeping It?

by Dexter Fong, USPTA Master Professional

The most successful tennis players walk, talk and ooze confidence. Confidence shines through these players. You see “it” off-court as well as on-court. The confident player will generally show the following characteristics:
  • Wins matches
  • Positive attitude        
  • Positive energy
  • Problem solver        
  • Goal oriented    
  • Open-mindedness   
  • Strong will
  • Independent thinking  
  • Calm under pressure   
  • Focused       
  • Fearless       
It is a universal belief that confidence is vital to winning. In the same context, lack of confidence generally will produce less than desirable results. Most tennis players ride a roller coaster while developing their tennis game. Sometimes you’re confident, sometimes you’re not. Against certain players you are, against others you’re not.
When you lack confidence, things just do not go your way. Everything seems to go wrong. You don’t get any breaks. You don’t know what to do. When you’re not confident players will generally show the following characteristics:
  • Does not know what to do
  • Negative energy        
  • Can’t think clearly    
  • Disinterested
  • Out of control under pressure
  • Lose matches
  • Negative attitude       
  • Disoriented       
  • Frustrated
  • Lack focus   
  • Scared        
  • No fight
Ten Ways to Achieve and Keep Confidence Up!
  1. Winning! Arrange your practice matches to achieve a winning formula.
  2. Develop fundamentally sound strokes. Focus on making your big shot bigger, improving your weaker shot to become more reliable, and adding new strokes to compliment your style of play.
  3. Develop all your tennis strokes so that you can implement a plan B when necessary.
  4. Train to compete in ways that will complement your physical and mental attributes.
  5. Taking a break is necessary, return to tournament play after appropriate practice time.
  6. Maintain physical training to pull out those three setters, two matches per day and to prevent injury
  7. Maintain a positive environment from family members, coaches, teachers and friends.
  8. Consistency in training and coaching.
  9. Set short term, mid range and long-range goals that are the child’s goals and not the parents.
  10. Take personal ownership of your tennis game. It is not the parent’s tennis game, it is the child’s.
Ten Ways How to Lose Confidence?
  1. A negative environment will crush one’s will, desire, motivation and fight. Many times, the negative environment is not implemented on purpose.
  2. Losing too many tournament and practice matches. Players build confidence by winning. Play the appropriate tournament level at the appropriate times.
  3. Strokes fail you because strokes are not sound and strong. Player does not get enough repetition.
  4. Lack certain shots in your game.
  5. Player does not take advantage of their strength. Using the wrong style for their body structure and abilities.
  6. Taking too long of a break.
  7. Injuries hurt physically and mentally. Poor technique and poor training schedule could lead to injury.
  8. Inconsistent training and coaching. The player becomes confused and unsure of themselves.
  9. Not having a road map, an overall plan for development. The junior does not see where he/she is headed.
  10. Expecting to have everything done for you. Juniors who take no ownership of their tennis losses.

About Dexter Fong
Dexter Fong has over 43 years of teaching experience. He has his Masters Degree in Physical Education and California Teaching Credentials, certified as a USTA High Performance Coach, and hosted one of five national pilot USTA Area Training Center programs in the 1980s. In addition to being selected USPTA Nor Cal Pro of the Year and the Nor Cal Wilson Pro of the Year, he has received the USTA Eve Kraft Community Service Award among others.

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