Advice for parents of a child that plays tennis
Tennis is a sport in which parents play an important role. The role of the coach is to cooperate with you, as long as you are part of the team. When your child trains with a coach, the latter is in a way your coach too. It is therefore very important that you share the same philosophy as your child and him. Being the parent of a good tennis player is not easy, because most of the time, everything is new for you. This is why it is important to know how to cooperate without interfering in the training plan. This kind of relationship requires good communication in a parent-player-coach triangle. From the beginning, it is important that you, the parents, are aware of some of the typical behavior that could jeopardize your child’s training:
- The parent is new to the world of tennis and does not manage the challenges that comes with it correctly, not giving enough importance to his child’s project.
- The parent tends to interfere too much in his child’s training, placing too much importance on it.
- The parent wants to replace the coach.
- The parent feels that the coach is taking his or her place as the child’s advisor.
- The parent models the behavior of other parents who have managed to successfully get their kids to the top (Williams,Bartoli).
In order to avoid these mistakes, good communication with the coach is paramount.
Meeting the coach
The coach has to organize a meeting in the beginning of the season in order to introduce himself to the parents and to share with them his concept of tennis and training. It is important that you, the parents, attend this meeting, and that the meeting takes place in a pleasant, friendly and relaxed atmosphere. During this important moment, the coach will introduce his team and himself, his teaching philosophy and the main points of his training program, the objectives of the season, the training procedure, the rules of the academy, disciplinary measures etc… The goal here is to understand the purpose of tennis, it contributes to the player’s personal development, to his development as a member of society, it teaches him about life, the love for sport, self-respect etc… It is important to understand the benefits of tennis on a personal level (discipline, self confidence, motivation) on the physical level (good physical condition) and social level (cooperation, team spirit), but also the sacrifices it requires on a personal level (stress, exhaustion), on the physical level (injuries) on the social level (competitiveness).
Here are some tips for an effective communication and collaboration:
- Get to know your child’s coach
- Respect the opinion of the coach and leave the responsibility of training to him.
- Evaluate your child’s progress
- Talk to other parents in order to make new friends and understand the world of tennis
- Establish clear communication rules
- Sit somewhere not too close to the court, where you can still watch the match
- Enjoy watching your child play, and appear relaxed and positive.
- Applaud your child’s opponent too.
- Always have the same attitude towards your child, regardless of his score.
- Welcome your child with positive words “how did the match go?”, “How did you play?” Show him that you care about him and not only about his results.
- Be there when he loses a game, but give him space if he needs it.
- Teach him to enjoy making efforts and the results of it.
- Give your child other opportunities outside of tennis.
- Be realistic about your expectation of your child’s tennis career
Mistakes to avoid
- Thinking that tennis is the only way to succeed in life and forcing your child to put everything into tennis.
- Overreacting and showing your disappointment when he loses a game.
- Reacting to a bad result or to a mistake by punishing him or criticizing him.
- Ignoring your child’s bad behavior, such as cheating or bad manners.
- Giving him advice around the court or trying to take the place of the coach.
- Intervening during the matches. If needed, appealing to the referee
- Ignoring pain or suffering
- Forgetting that your child is growing
- Paying too much attention to your child’s career to the detriment of the rest of his entourage.
- Using sarcasm to motivate your child or fear to force him to be more disciplined
- Getting to the point, where your child is afraid of losing because of the way you could react to his defeat.
- Being present at all the training and all the matches.
- Say things like “we won”, “we lost”, “we played”
- Forcing your child to talk to you after a match before the pressure is off.
- Expecting something in return because you have invested a lot in your child’s tennis career.