How smart is your game❓

How to build up your tennis confidence

Heading to practice in a very Finnish winter day

Feel like you could use some extra confidence on the court? Ahhh, who wouldn’t!

I’ve been out for quite a long time (thank you endless injury and covid 🙄) and I don’t even remember when was the last time I played a tournament!

So you can imagine... I do need some confidence as well 😆.

Which is why I’m here, sharing with you my infallible action plan to build back up my once at least decent confidence. Because yes, I think it might be of some help for you too!

Btw, if you’re new on this blog... hi, my name is Elena 👋🏻 and, just like you, I'm on a mission to become the best tennis player I can 🥇. Even without a fancy team, or too much talent. Just with a huge desire to make it.

That's why Tennis Rematch exists: to share everything I learn along the way 🤓, so you can get better faster, and together we can prove that we can achieve anything we set our mind to 🔥.

But ok, back to business now!

Let’s start with a little update first, just so you have a bit of context and we’re all on the same page.

I’ve been around quite a lot lately: first in my hometown in Italy ⛰️, then in sunny Sardegna (which totally inspired me to write my latest blog on how to improve faaaast), then back to my hometown... and now here I am, back home in Winter Wonderland ❄️  (aka Helsinki).

The reason why I’m here is simple. My plants were screaming for help 🌺🌵😭.

Well, that’s what I thought! In fact, I don’t know how but they all survived quite well these past 3 months with no water. I was expecting them to look as thirsty as me at practice, but instead... they looked like they happily enjoyed our absence. Who knows 🤷‍♀️. Finnish plants are superplants, I guess.

Plants and jokes aside, we’re back to Helsinki because the Finnish Tour is set to start soon. Finally!

And yes, I’m planning to cash in. (Ahaha if only winning was as easy as planning 🙈 )

But hey, dream big they say. So I’m dreaming big. And working hard to make it happen, of course.

So... since I’ve been out from tournaments for quite a long time (oh boy, 15 months and counting 😱 ), I actually have no confidence whatsoever. What I have though is a ton of determination to get it back as fast as possible. And a plan.

Hope you have a ton of determination as well, because I don’t think I can do much about it. But when it comes to plans, rest assured: I’ve got your back 🤙 !

My plan to increase my confidence on court actually includes very few simple things, so if you are expecting something extra miraculous, sorry to disappoint 😬. But I really do believe there’s no need for anything sensational to get a tiny bit of confidence. Plus, I don’t know how’s it for you, but I personally prefer not to bite off more than I can chew!

So you ready?! Let’s get started!

#1 - Set goals you have full control over

I know, it’s easy to be carried away by what you really want and make your dreams your goals 🎯.

You have no idea how many times I’ve done that mistake, and how many times I felt sad and disappointed as a consequence for (honestly) no good reason.

For example... since the beginning of this blog, I kept a sort of diary on my tennis goals. And guess what? I included among those my periodic ranking goals. I let you imagine what happened to them when covid happened. Or when I got injured 👀.

Yes, exactly: they flew out of the window 🥏.

And with them, my confidence.

But I’m not doing the same mistake again. This time, I’m not setting as a goal cashing in 💰 during the Finnish Tour (as I’ve joked about just a few lines ago). Instead, my goal is to prepare for it the best I can beforehand, so I can have a real shot when time comes.

This way, I can be sure that no matter what happens during the actual matches, I can be proud of myself and feel confident I’ve done all I could. Because that’s only up to me.

✨ As long as your goal is up to you, you can be 100% sure you’re gonna tick it off the list ✔️, and boost your confidence, of course.

#2 - Keep track of your progress

If setting goals you have full control over is the first thing to tackle, tracking progress comes right after.

And no, there’s no need to keep a tennis journal if you’re not into that kind of stuff. It’s enough that every now and then you take some time to check in with yourself and reflect on how it’s going 💭, whether you’re still on the right track or you need to adjust the shot.

Or why not, depending on the type of goals you have chosen, you could even track your progress by filming yourself 🎬.

I’ve actually done that lately (without even thinking of it as a way of tracking progress) and WOW, when I had a look at myself on the court I was like “Really?! That’s my forehand nowadays? Not bad!” 😯.

Can you guess what a boost of confidence was that?! Indeed 🙆‍♀️. (I’m definitely gonna do it more often from now on!)

Sometimes we just don’t think we’re progressing, and convince ourselves we’ve hit a plateau and our tennis is the same as always. If only we could see and remind ourselves how far we’ve already come!

✨ Never forget where you started. Be proud. And feel the confidence grow.

#3 - Improve your fitness level

However is your game, no matter your playing style, how you move and feel on the court plays a huge part in your tennis.

Not only. It plays a mega role in your confidence too!

I’m sure it’s already happened to you a thousand times. You get to the court all happy to play 💃, you start your warmup routine, feel like your legs are not quite responsive and voilà: your mood goes straight into “ppfff this is a struggle” mode 😤 .

On the other hand, (hopefully more often) the opposite has happened to you. Your feet feel light as a feather, your legs fast and strong, and voilà: your mood is set to “woo today I’m unstoppable” 🚀.

Isn’t it like that?

For me it goes exactly like that 👌 . Which is why these days I’m paying extra attention to my athletic preparation, sometimes to the point that I even prioritize the fitness sessions to the tennis practices.

Because why even bother going to practice if my fitness level isn’t on point 🤷‍♀️ ?!

Of course, the best thing you can do is to find a balance between the two, so you can do both things well without having to compromise either of them.

For example, what I found works best for me lately is not following the HP Tennis Fitness Program to the letter (which would take way too much of my time and energy), but rather mixing it up with other types of low impact training like fascial conditioning.

💬 Have you ever tried fascial conditioning? Or heard of it?

For me, it’s doing wonders 🧚 (and that’s to say the least). I truly cannot believe I’ve discovered this type of training this late, it’s just soo sooo good for tennis!! Every single tennis player on earth should incorporate it in her routine!

✨ If there’s one thing you have full control over in tennis, that is your fitness level. Make it your priority and your confidence will follow.

#4 - Work on your weaknesses

I’m very aware this is quite the opposite of what many coaches think and preach, but hey... what can I do if this is what works for me and my confidence?!

Maybe it’s because I’m one of those players who has to play smart to win (are there players who don’t?! 🤔 Not sure.), but I truly find it ridiculously easy to play against someone who has a top-level forehand but a shitty backhand. Or viceversa. Or have no touch whatsoever at the net.

Remember when I lost my forehand? To me it was absolutely incredible that my opponents kept playing on my backhand. Why would you do that?! 😂

Anyway... the point is, my weaknesses make me feel insecure. No matter how awesome my strengths might be. (That’s why in my matches I usually try to hit the pain points of my opponents before anything else 😈)

So, as you can imagine, I spend most of my practices working on improving what I’m not yet good at rather than getting exceptional at what I already am. And I like it that way.

I’m not saying I never work on my beloved backhand or my signature drop shot (that’s not what drop shot addicts do, just so you know!). I’m just saying that I do spend 70% of my practices hitting forehands, overheads and serves 💥!

Because that’s my way to get into a match with a tiny extra bit of confidence.

✨ Knowing that you can trust all your shots is the best feeling of all. It’s confidence.

#5 - Play practice matches

If you’re trying to build your confidence ahead of tournaments just like me, you cannot not play practice matches.

For real, it’s necessary! Or you’ll step on the court with no idea of what’s coming, having to figure everything out on the fly 💡. (Perfect recipe for a very low confidence, aka disaster.)

Just the other day, I played my first few points with Tupu after a looooong while (read several months here) and what happened was quite shocking to me.

As we didn’t have much time left, we decided to opt for a tiebreak. Can you believe I didn’t realize I was actually playing a tiebreak until we were 5-6? No joke 😳.

My focus was all over the place, and I kept giving her balls when it was my turn to serve the whole time. What was wrong with me?!

I had one million things going through my mind. It felt like I was in the court, but not really. Like everything was out of control. Crazy! 🤯

Well, I’m grateful I went through that in practice. It would have been a total disaster if it was a real match!

Now... I know my case is a bit extreme since I’ve been out for so long, but still.

The sooner you put yourself out there in the uncomfortable, the better! You’ll get to face just as many challenging situations as if you were in real matches and probably fail many times in your attempts to get out of them. But you’ll learn. And next time you’ll do better!

✨ Make mistakes. Fail. Fail faster. Fail better. Your confidence will thank you.

And voilà, there you have it: my way to build back up my tennis confidence.

Now I want to know about your way!

💬 What are your tricks to boost your confidence ahead of tournaments?

Don’t feel shy and share them in the comments below 😊. We all want to get better as fast as possible here, so why not help each others?! I’m sure lots of good will come out of this discussion. As always ❤️.

Thanks a lot for reading this blog up to the very end, I really appreciate it and hope with all my heart it helped at least a tiny bit. If so, click on the clap button below so I know!

Wish you lots of confident days on the tennis court! Those are the best 🥰.

Talk to you soon 💕🤗

Elena

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