November 26, 2015

Defining Confidence

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Defining Confidence

By Scott Swainston, Asst. Director of Mental Training at Ivan Lendl International Junior Tennis Academy


noun \ˈkän-fə-dən(t)s, -ˌden(t)s\

–      a feeling or consciousness of one’s powers or of reliance on one’s circumstances



Merriam-Webster’s first definition of confidence starts with “a feeling.”  For some, this seems to be buried deep inside, while others struggle to find it.  Feelings lie within all of us and often dictate our behaviors.  Research shows us athletes, who are high in self-confidence, will generally perform closer to their potential and athletes struggling with low self-confidence will usually not.


In sports, to be successful you have to be confident, but you can’t be confident until you are successful.  With regards to tennis, confidence built from external results only makes you as good as the last point. An ace ripped passed your opponent improves confidence while a double fault and the momentum disappears. As you can imagine, this becomes a very difficult world to compete consistently point-after-point.  Instead of waiting around for good things to happen, try a more proactive approach.  At the Ivan Lendl International Junior Tennis Academy, we teach our students to proactively build confidence starting with their mindset.


Here’s how:


  • Seek challenge and look to solve the problems that come with each. This allows you to constantly build confidence as you watch yourself improve through more difficult competition.
  • Look to learn from each situation regardless of the outcome. If you don’t learn, you don’t grow. If you don’t look to grow, you don’t build confidence.
  • View practice as a chance to master skills, as opposed to proving your current abilities. A mastery approach will lead to higher confidence that will directly translate to improved performance.
  • Effectively manage yourself in the face of adversity. Knowing you can manage yourself regardless of the situation is a great way to be confident in your ability to compete.

Confidence is a feeling we all want in order to compete our best. Building it through results and experience alone becomes a thin sheet of ice that is easily broken. In turn, develop confidence through your mindset so you can keep it growing deep inside you.

Scott Swainston


About Scott Swainston

Scott Swainston is the Assistant Director of Mental Training at Ivan Lendl International Junior Tennis Academy on Hilton Head Island, S.C. Scott received his Bachelor degree in Psychology and Sociology at the University of Missouri – Kansas City and Master of Science in Sport Psychology from Georgia Southern University.

Ivan Lendl IJTA exemplifies Ivan Lendl’s desire to give back to tennis and develop future champions through a new-era curriculum and holistic training approach. The Academy focuses on classic fundamentals, leading-edge biomechanics, strength training / fitness and mental preparation. Lendl subscribes to a hands-on approach with students instilling dedication, focus, hard work, motivation and overall preparation.

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