3 Essential Steps to Build the Confidence of Your Tennis Girls
“Get out. Get out. I’m serious. Just get out!” Nick Kyrgios bellows at his coaches box after losing 8 points in a row at Wimbledon.
When I hear Kyrgios yell at his coaches box; or the umpire; or the crowd, I am reminded of the research we encountered in developing the Girls Tennis Network.
When a girl makes a mistake they typically attribute it to themselves; where boys attribute it to something external like a bad call by the umpire.
The research goes on to conclude that the female athlete is more likely to think “I’m not good enough.” This emotion is often driven by societies demand for girls to be perfect and be the ‘good girl.’ It will often negatively affect performance.
This trait has also been shown to characterise girls involvement in education and the workforce. Research has shown girls are:-
- less willing to tackle more difficult problems at school
- less likely to stretch to compete for the promotion at work if they feel they do not meet 100% of the job requirements.
Reshma Saujani gives wonderful TED talk about the need for coaches, parents and educators to encourage girls to be brave and take risks to overcome this tendency to underrate their abilities. Watch here>>>
What can we do
- Praise the athlete that makes a mistake and quickly recovers. This behaviour rewards resilience and encourages the player to reach and take more risks.
- Focus on corrections rather than on errors. Constantly concentrating on errors can erode confidence and cause a negative “I’m not good enough” minset to emerge.
- Transform their tennis lessons into an experience that teaches life skills. If you give them confidence on the tennis court they can translate that confidence into their lives.
To keep girls thriving in tennis long enough that their talent has time to fully develop, we need to understand what girls need from their tennis experience. We need to embrace the awesome responsibility we have to make a positive impact on their lives, not just their games.
“For girls their coaches and teachers are their #1 mentors in sport. For boys it is their fathers.”
Womens Sport Foundation
To learn more about being a great #1 mentor for your tennis girls Girls Tennis Network – The Essential Principles of Working with Girls is required reading.