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Elite Confidence for Junior Tennis Players PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by Seth Kaplan   
Junior Tennis Mental Performance

To gain the mental edge on the tennis court, Junior players must be confident in their abilities. Confidence is a belief that you can perform at a high level in all match situations. The opposite of confidence is self-doubt which often leads to low levels of performance. Do you think Roger Federer would have been able to win 16 Grand Slams if he was not confident in his abilities? Federer’s elite confidence gives him the mental edge against his opponents. He is confident that he can close out matches when he is on top, and confident he can find his rhythm when he is out of synch. All of the great players in any sport believe that they have the tools for success, especially in pressure situations.

All of the research in sport psychology indicates that confidence plays a major role in athletic performance, but how to we build it? How do we become more confident to strengthen our mental game? Here are 3 tools to gain confidence to enhance your tennis performance in practice and in competition:

  1. Positive Self-Talk: Repeating positive statements to yourself is a great way toYou have all the tools…just trust your game and let it rip. increase motivation and build confidence. An example of positive self-talk is, “You have all the tools…just trust your game and let it rip.” An example of negative self-talk is, “There’s no way I can come back against this guy. He’s just too good.” The key is to gain awareness when you are saying negative, self-defeating things to yourself, and then turn it around by inserting powerful, positive statements. With routine practice your self-talk will become more positive which will enhance your feelings of self-confidence.
  2. Visualization: Creating images in our mind, or visualizing, is especially useful as a mental preparation technique. You can build confidence by “seeing in your mind’s eye” the elite performance you are striving for such as hitting crosscourt winners, volleying into the open court, and hitting your second serve with depth. You can create new scenarios while visualizing (seeing yourself execute shots you have previously not attempted) or you can re-create successful experiences on the court. I would suggest that you integrate visualization (15-20 minutes per day) as part of your mental preparation strategy. By routinely executing shots in your mind before practice and competition, your reaction time will be quicker during the actual events. Remember: only visualize yourself performing flawlessly when you utilize this mental simulation technique!
  3. Effective Thinking: We all make mistakes on the tennis court. Just look at the number of unforced errors the pros make each match! However, you can build confidence by effectively interpreting mistakes. *First, recognize what you did wrong. Perhaps you did not get down low enough on your forehand which is why you netted the shot. Once you have identified the “teaching point” you now have the opportunity to hit it correctly the next time. Pulling out teaching points builds confidence because it arms you with vital information for future positive performance. *Second, treat the mistake as an atypical, isolated occurrence. One poorly executed shot has nothing to do with the next shot and is not an indictment of your abilities as a tennis player. *Finally, affirm to yourself that you are a talented player who executes at a high level the great majority of the time. Perceive your mistakes simply as opportunities for you to improve your game.

In summary, confidence is a learned skill that can be improved. By practicing these 3 tools you can build your internal confidence to unleash your full Junior tennis potential!

Seth Kaplan
The author, Seth Kaplan, M.Ed., is a Mental Performance Coach and the founder of Elite Performance Coaching (EPC). To learn more about Seth and his Mental Strength Program for Elite Performance, visit the EPC website at

Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 April 2010 11:30
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