Being a tennis parent can be quite stressful for both the parents and the child. Expectations are always aimed high, and defeat can cause forms of retribution which can be misguided or misinterpreted.
The Tennis Parent often falls into one of these three categories:
1. Logical outlook, but no prior playing experiences
These parents apply simple-to-understand logic, such as listening to your coach, putting in a good work ethic, applying your coaching to matchplay skills both technically and tactically. They expect their child to always do the right thing, no matter what. This should lead to winning matches.
However, they do not always see the underlying issues; such as no match is a guaranteed win. Nothing is certain at all; both players are trying to win so one of them will…. and one of them will not. It is that simple. Also these parents need to understand the emotional strain on their child, very often playing a complete stranger, trying to win for their parents as much as themselves, with only one outcome seemingly being acceptable….THE WIN. The strain on the child with the expectancy to win is something parents must understand is not easy for anyone… let alone a child.
The child needs to be allowed to enjoy the sport, feel the excitement of playing, and gain experiences of facing the challenge of TRYING to win rather than HAVING to win.
2. The tennis-playing parent
These parents want to see desire from their child, like they would when they play, and a willingness to compete, as they would. These parents can give a more balanced approach if discussing the game with their offspring. These parents should also play tennis with their children to formulate the understanding of the ‘family game’, and that it is just a game when all is said and done.
For the child to make it as a pro they must first love playing, have a great work ethic and be super talented too! Then with a lot of luck and good fortune they may get a crack at pro tennis.
3. The tennis coach parent
A very difficult job for the parent because you need to have two personas. It is good to remember to address your child in the right way for the comment you wish to make to them. For instance, as the ‘Coach’ you might say “I felt you were a little timid at important points and need to play a little more aggressively next time perhaps don’t you think?” whereas as the ‘Parent’ you may say something completely different, “How did you feel you played the game today?” Both statements may give you the same answer. The reply might be “I missed a few chances I think, I got nervous because I should have won. Are we going to go and eat now and go to the football match this afternoon?”.
‘Parent’ reply is “Yes we are. Grab your gear we will get going” ‘Coach’ reply is “Yes let’s go and eat. Then off to the footy. We can smack a few tennis balls tomorrow again!”
What aspect are you taking reference from in all of this, A B or C?
Until next time!
Phil Vivian is a highly experienced tennis coach with over 40 years experience as a professional tennis coach.
He is currently Head Coach at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre in Olympic Park and is also a PTR Tutor.
To contact Phil visit his website: tennisclubprogramme.co.uk