Improving confidence in sport?

I’ve been playing tennis for quite awhile now, my technique is absolutely fine in all areas in practise but when it comes to matches, most of the time, my game falls to pieces because I’m worried about losing/making a mistake, and even when I win, it’s only marginally. I’ve read the Inner Game Of Tennis and it hasn’t really helped improve my confidence, I’ve heard about those tapes which you listen but I don’t know whether they really work. Have you guys got any tips?

I am not a sports psychologist, but clearly your problem is that

I used to be the same way as a hitter in softball, then I realised that there is no paycheck at the end of the game. Whether we win or lose is not terribly important (trust me, the last two seasons our team has been 1-31 each year). What is important is that we’re out there having fun, hanging out with our buddies, having a couple beers together afterwards, etc. If it’s not fun, or you can’t make it fun, you need to either stop keeping score or find another hobby. Unless you’re being paid to play, relax and enjoy yourself. Wins will come.

A win’s a win. No bonus points are awarded for margin of victory.

I don’t know if this will help, but one of the best sports psych quotes I’ve heard was from Pedro Martinez, pitcher for the Red Sox a situation where it’s easy to screw up and if you do lots of people will know about it.

Someone asked him if he was nervous when he was pitching, and he replied along the lines of
“Why should I be nervous? What’s the worst thing that could happen – I lose a big game? Well I’ve already done that before.” (and for the record, while he certainly has lost games, he’s also won enough that he’s going to the Hall of Fame one day.)

So you mess up a point in tennis. You’ve never done that before?
And remember, same thing goes for your opponent, so don’t feel bad about winning by a lot.

I forgot to add that it’s mainly in doubles that I get really nervous, my partners are either under-confident, or overconfident in which case I feel underconfident. Normally I’m fine playing with underconfident people, it’s just that we don’t do so well then lol, any tips on how to help pick-up players would be welcome. Changing partners isn’t that easy as I’m in a league club thing. Thanks for any help.

Moved to IMHO.

General Questions Moderator

You might try That Winning Feeling by Jane Savoie. It specifically addresses mental issues for horseback riding competitors, but most of the sports psychology methods and exercises she presents work for all sports. It’s a lot of visualization, relaxation (or pumping up if that’s what you need) and adjusting your mental outlook. To be honest, I thought it was pretty hokey when it was recommended to me, but a lot of the techniques really work.