Coaching Tip of the Week: Confidence, Then Consistency!
Many players practice hard to develop consistency, and from this consistency they develop confidence. This is backwards! Be confident first, and then, with practice, consistency will come. Believe you can do it, and you will. (Or, for you realists, you will at least do as well as you physically can.)
What causes a person to miss “easy” shots? Usually it’s because of a very small, almost insignificant loss of confidence, which leads you to slightly guide the shot, rather than just let your trained subconscious control the shot.
When you go for a shot, your brain sends nerve impulses (electric impulses) to the muscle cells, ordering them to contract in certain ways. The order, intensity, and duration of the impulses control the manner in which the muscle fibers contract. There is no way you can control this complicated set of directions consciously. Only by training can the brain’s subconscious areas learn the exact set of nerve impulses to be sent in a given situation. Any conscious control throws the whole set of impulses into disarray, leading to mistakes.
Instead, remember making the shot in the past and what it felt like. At first, you should copy what a top player does. But once you’ve made the shot once, there is no reason why you shouldn’t make it every time! YOU CAN! (And if you believe that, then you are well on your way toward improving the shot.) If you do miss one, don’t worry about that miss – immediately think about a time when you made that shot, then perhaps shadow-practice it, and then, more than likely, you’ll make it next time.
Confidence allows you to let go consciously and let your subconscious brain do what it’s been taught (or is being taught) to do. Good players think between points, but never during a point. Just blank out your mind during a rally and watch what happens. Let your subconscious do the work while you get the credit!
So believe in your shots, even if there is no logical reason to. Have confidence in your shots. KNOW that your shot CANNOT MISS – and it probably won’t.