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Sun, Aug. 25

Column: Confidence is tough to get - and to keep

Victor R. Caivano/The Associated Press<br>Andy Murray's confidence reached dizzying new heights after his win over Roger Federer to win the men's singles gold medal in London.

Victor R. Caivano/The Associated Press<br>Andy Murray's confidence reached dizzying new heights after his win over Roger Federer to win the men's singles gold medal in London.

How do some players seem to comfortably come through matches with many more wins than losses, while others who pretty much have the same time and effort put forth - fall short?

Can confidence be taught, is it a born trait, does your type of personality make it easy or hard to obtain? Creating a confident tennis game is a bit of all that and more it seems.

Watching a player like Roger Federer go through a Slam final gives you an idea of how tough it is to stay positive and look beyond the moment that just took place.

At the Olympics, Roger probably thought he could beat Andy Murray. He did weeks prior at Wimbledon in that final. It wasn't as though Andy had never defeated Roger, but it seemed when it really mattered, he just couldn't push through.

But, the more experience you gain in being in those situations, the more moxie you normally obtain, and Murray now has the monkey off his back with that gold medal win.

If you have a history with the person you're playing, you know what's taken place in past matches. Those thoughts could give you the edge if you were victorious, but if you were on the losing side, how do you rev yourself up to truly feel you have a good chance of reversing a bad trend?

Here are a few ideas you can try.

Make notes at the end of your matches about what took place.

What did your opponent do well? What did you do well? What was the difference between the two of you that gave them the match? What can you realistically do with the skills that you own, both mental and physical, to change the results?

With those answers you may have to get out and get some extra practice in, and some more match play to test yourself. Then it's time to test yourself again by entering another league or tournament.

Working on your concentration can also make a difference.

Stay focused on what your goals are before each point begins. Have one or two things written down you can refer to on changeovers.

If you have an optimistic outlook in life and on the court, you can probably find the silver lining in whatever is happening and get on about things without completely crashing and burning. But if you're a pessimist, what do you do when the chips are flying in the wrong direction?

You've got to do your best to calm down, play your best each and every point and try to figure out a way (if there is a way) to steer the boat back in the right direction.

You may not win this contest (no one wins all the time), but you can use this time, this moment, as a possible training maneuver to build upon - and to feel better about with your future endeavors.

Put yourself in matches you know you can win as a confidence booster. Playing opponents who are better than you all the time can become demoralizing.

Sandbag every now and then. It's good for the soul to get a few wins under your belt.

And how do you maintain the level of believability in yourself as you get older and the young buck of yesteryear is now wiser but a step slower?

No doubt there's a little adjusting involved.

You play smarter, chose better partners and weaker opponents, and on occasion get into someone's head by calling an in ball - out. (I'm kidding - you do that more often than occasionally.)

The things we'll do to add a little confidence.

Chris Howard is a local UPSTA Tennis Professional with over 40 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at 928-642-6775 or

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