US Open Tennis and Self Confidence

Self confidence is one of the keys to success that I discuss in Straight Talk for Success.  If you want to become self confident, you need to do three things: 1) Be optimistic; 2) Face your fears and take action; and 3) surround yourself with positive people.

The US Tennis Open begins today in at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York City.  All of the big name players — Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, James Blake, Andy Roddick, Novak Djokovic, David Ferrer, Nikolay Davydenko, Andy Murray, David Nalbandian, Ana Ivanovic, Jelena Jankovic, Dinara Safina, Venus and Serena Williams, Lindsay Davenport — will be there.

Are you a tennis fan, have you been paying attention to Nadal’s rise to Number 1?  What do you think?  Is he a flash in the pan, or the real deal?  Please leave a comment sharing your thoughts on Rafael’s amazing year.

This summer, Rafael Nadal has won the French Open, Wimbledon and the Olympic Gold Medal.  He is the favorite going into the tournament.  But don’t count out Roger Federer, even though he hasn’t won a Grand slam event this year.

The Federer – Nadal rivalry brings up a point about self confidence.  Right now, Nadal has to be supremely confident.  Federer’s confidence, on the other hand, has to be a bit shaken.  It will be interesting to watch him play over these next two weeks.

In his new book, A Champion’s Mind, Pete Sampras, winner of 14 Tennis Grand Slams, including five US Open championships, talks about the “inner judge” in all of us, and how he had to work to overcome it.

“But the biggest concern for Tim (Gullikson, his coach) was my attitude on the court.  I tended to slump and slouch, especially when things weren’t going my way.  Anyone can play tennis when he’s firing on all cylinders.  The challenge is to play well enough to win when you’re not at your best.  There’s a sneering inner judge in all of us, and a big part of being successful is tuning him out…Instead of listening to that judge when he says you’re lousy, or should pack it in because you’re tired and there’s always next week – that’s when you need to suck it up and act like a man – hang on, fight on, show the pride of a champion.”

I’ve never played any sport at a very high level, so I am going out on a limb suggesting that Roger Federer’s inner judge is really sneering as this year’s US Open begins.  However I do know enough about career and life success to think that Roger Federer needs to take Pete’s words to heart.  Even though, I like Nadal, Blake, Roddick and Murray, I am a Federer fan.  I’m hoping that he’ll be able to gather his confidence and win this tournament.

Last week, I had a conversation with Lorraine Cohen, of Powerfull Living.  Lorraine and I were discussing a new program she is offering called “I say YES.”  You can learn more about it by going to   In the “I say YES” program Lorraine will teach you how to tune out your “sneering inner judge” and to “hang on, fight on and show the pride of a champion.”  Or, as John McEnroe, a pretty good tennis player with a Racquet Central in his own right, told Pete Sampras in 1992, how to “get rid of that negative attitude.”

The common sense point here is simple.  In tennis and in life, we all face self doubt that is driven by what Pete Sampras calls our “inner judge.”  Successful people are able to tune out their inner judge and perform at a high level.  They heed John McEnroe’s advice and get rid of the negative attitude that their inner judge lays on them.  As The Optimist Creed says they “think only of the best, work only for the best and expect only the best.”  They say YES to realizing their potential.

That’s my take on this year’s US Open, and self confidence.  What’s yours?  Please leave a comment – and a prediction.  I will give a free eBook version of Straight Talk for Success to anyone who predicts the winner of this year’s US Open.  If you want to qualify for this contest, I need to have your predictions no later than Wednesday, August 27.  Thanks for reading – and playing.


PS – If you want a copy of The Optimist Creed send me an email at with the words “Optimist Creed” in the subject line.

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