Venus Williams, tennis icon, is an advocate of a vegan/raw-food diet, designs an activewear line (Eleven by Venus), and hosts a blog series on motivation, fitness, and athletic performance. She entered the pro ranks of the Women’s Tennis Association at 14 and has earned 44 WTA Tour titles and four Olympic gold medals.
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Sport is just like life; it’s filled with ups and downs. There are times when you just can’t lose and other times when the luck always seems to go the other way. Life can be especially tough when we are dealing with challenges that are out of our control. Here’s where my story comes in. For the best part of 2013, I had been struggling with a back injury. I’ve dealt with a lot of injuries—countless, actually. But this one was quite devastating as it took away my biggest weapon, and the life of my game: my serve. Coming back from this injury has been one of the biggest challenges of my career. I was shocked to see how much it affected my confidence. What I quickly found was that recovering confidence can be tricky. I have made a set of rules that helped me along the way. It came through trial and error and a handful of somewhat tragic losses. Thankfully, my losses weren’t in vain: they paved the way to self-reflection and some mind-blowing insights. As they say, “The only tragedy in losing or failing is not learning from it.”
Steps to Regain Your Confidence
1. Compete. Competing is when you leave it all on the court, so to speak. You come out and give it your all even if you aren’t at your best, strongest, or most confident. Many times, it’s the best effort and the most hustle that wins, not the better player.
2. Leave fear at the door. Don’t bring fear in; it’s evil and will just stop you. Conquer fear by accepting that you may have to allow yourself to be put in some uncomfortable positions, perhaps over and over again. It’s not easy and you may not succeed the first time around, but if you keep at it, learn, and adjust for your mistakes along the way, you will eventually come out the conqueror.
3. Reflect. Reflect on what parts of your life need change so you can get to where you want to be. Evaluate your mistakes and how you can improve.
4. Visualize. Visualizing what you want to achieve is most effective. Visualize the behaviors you want and the end results. Seeing yourself there in your head makes it a reality in life. Post pictures and sayings on idea boards and on your fridge so you can help yourself visualize.
5. Believe in yourself. Take a chance to believe in yourself. Never bet against yourself! Sometimes, you have to fake it until you make it. Act, speak, think, and behave in a way that speaks to self-belief. Any self-belief that is lacking will become stronger if you walk the walk.
6. Surround yourself with positivity and support. It’s hard to get anywhere without a support team. Build a team of cheerleaders who encourage you when you are down. My family and team encouraged me when I could not see progress. That kept my spirits lifted and allowed me to continue to stay strong. In a world filled with people who are going to say you can’t, why not build a team that says, “Yes, you can”?
7. Prepare. Preparation is crucial. Whatever you are trying to achieve takes work. Even being a couch potato takes hours and hours of sitting around in order to be good at it. To successfully build back your confidence, work has to be done—and it has to be done right. In my case, hours on the court and at the gym. Paying the price and taking time to prepare builds confidence in itself and is never time wasted. If you’re not willing to do the work, well, stop reading right here! If you are, then you are more than welcome to continue.
8. Get back up. Along the way of coming back from challenges, you may fall. Don’t worry about it. Get right back up. Keep chugging, keep fighting, and don’t stay down. Being on the ground is not the place to be; it’s dirty down there. Fall down nine times, get back up ten.
9. Remember that someone else has it worse. Just when you feel like you’ve had enough, thinking “Woe is me” and that life is unfair, remember that someone else out there has it worse. Be happy that you have a chance to fight another day, and don’t waste time feeling sorry for yourself. Enjoy the battle.
10. Enjoy your life. Take a break from your struggles to smell the roses. Take some time to do things that you enjoy. It’s OK to get your mind off things so you can come back strong and refreshed.
11. Reward yourself. Give yourself credit for staying committed and working so hard. Self-talk is great, but only when it’s positive. Feel free to have an internal dialogue that highlights all you are doing right. These steps are tried and true, and I am seeing results. I hope some of these work for you to regain your confidence when you face your challenges.