In addition to pure talent, the greatest champions of the game acquire relentless self-belief and determination through preparation. Every player has experienced a certain amount of doubt when down in the score or struggling through a match. Look at Andy Murray during the 2012 Olympics and 2013 Wimbledon Championships. There were critical points in each of his matches when his self-belief was tested. It is during those moments that if a player knows he or she did everything they could to prepare, then they have a greater chance of success.
Process-oriented players, rather than result-oriented, are the ones who experience true self-confidence. At the end of the day, on the last court, when no one was watching, how hard did the player work during their training? How was the quality? Were they willing to go the extra mile to improve their fitness? Did they serve extra baskets of balls on their own? Did the player make optimal nutritional decisions? How much time was spent on reviewing stroke or match footage? If a player knows that they were willing to sacrifice everything they could to prepare for a match or tournament, then they will have the courage to put everything on the line until the match is over.
The match is often won even before the player steps on the court. A match is just one moment, while it is all of the moments prior to the match that lead to the outcome.
My instructional tip: If you want to be a successful tennis player at any level, hold yourself accountable with your training. Understand that if you have done all that you can to prepare, then you have every reason to walk on to the court with 100 percent self-belief. All the sacrifices that you make along the way translate into a belief that you deserve to win.