by Angelo A. Rossetti, USPTA Elite/PTR Professional, USTA HP & Mental Skills Certified & 2x Guinness World Records™ holder
After reading my friend and colleague Dr. Allen Fox’s article on confidence, where he used Nadal’s recent dip in confidence as an example, I was inspired to share my perspective on the subject.
I agree there are two types of confidence. Let’s identify them as follows:
Static and Dynamic Confidence.
Static Confidence is the confidence that is in-born, it’s similar to your personality type. Although this confidence can vary it typically doesn’t vary by much. For example, some people are Type A personality, they are outgoing or good at public speaking.Others have to take public speaking classes to be able to speak well in front of groups or be more assertive. If you aren’t born with high static confidence that’s OK because it can be worked on and learned just like good movement in tennis. If you read a powerful book, see an inspiring tennis match or have a person important in your life believe in you and tell you right before a match “make me proud” or “you can do it,” these are ways to increase your Static Confidence. Usually these methods don’t last too long and take work. Going to workshops or seminars, reading ebooks or listening to pod casts are other examples.They are like a boost of adrenaline; powerful when used but don’t last very long. They are more innate and knowledge based.
Dynamic Confidence is the confidence that is typically based on your own success in what you are confident in or accomplished at. In tennis, the more you win matches the higher your Dynamic Confidence. In my opinion the turning point in Novak Djokovic’s career was the first time that Roger Federer had match point against him at the 2011 U.S. Open and he hit a phenomenal forehand return of serve winner en route to winning the final that year. It was the right shot at the right time. He played “freely”. He took a calculated risk with a “nothing to lose everything to gain” attitude. This type of play has been with him ever since. Djokovic currently plays the important points better than anyone – knowing when to play percentage tennis and knowing when to take risks. Nadal’s example would be his down the line backhand passing shot winner in the epic 5-set match against Federer at the 2008 Wimbledon final. Nadal ended up defeating Federer 6–4, 6–4, 6–7(5–7), 6–7(8–10), 9–7. That match is regarded as one of the best matches in history. Up until recently, Nadal’s dynamic confidence has been just as high, especially on clay.
The question then is like the chicken or the egg. How do you develop or increase Dynamic Confidence if it’s based upon winning? If you haven’t won or don’t win enough how do you increase it? The trick is knowing what you can control and what you can’t control. I typical share the definition of frustration as the difference between expectations and performance. Most athletes think they can control their performance at will but just like “being in the zone” or “finding flow,” it doesn’t happen on cue, an athlete’s performance can’t be controlled on cue. This means that the player needs to lower his or her expectations in order to reduce the chance of frustration during a match. By lowering your expectations your performance will be perceived to be increased. You are almost surprised when you hit solid shots and make good decisions. This then leads to greater dynamic confidence.
Once we become aware of the different types of confidence and how we can influence them, we become better athletes under pressure and will enjoy the game more.
If you would like to read more on the subject I suggest Dr. Allen Fox’s book Tennis: Winning the Mental Match.
I always welcome feedback at angeloarossetti @ gmail .com.
You can learn more about a couple of tennis GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ that I have been a part of:
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