Updated: Aug 26, 2022
For many parents, having a child enter the sporting arena can be uncharted territory. Many parents do not come from a sporting background and are unsure as to how they can have a positive contribution to their child’s development and enjoyment. Over the past 25 years I have had the opportunity of dealing with many different parents both positive and hindering. Please find below my top 5 points that parents can apply to ensure that their child’s start in tennis is an enjoyable one.
The best tennis parents will want to educate themselves not only about the rules of the game but also, about how to be the best possible parent. A great source of education can be speaking with the child’s tennis coach. The coach can give you a realistic timeline for skill development and realistic expectations when it comes to competitive situations.
2: Parent first, coach never
A parent has two primary roles. One, to provide opportunities for their child (i.e. good training), and two, to provide emotional support for their child. Always treat your child as a child first and athlete second. Many children give their best in order to make the parent proud. Regardless of the outcome, parents should always reward effort and good sportsmanship over results. Before your child commences their training ask the coach what he/she would like you to do to help in the developmental process. By having clearly defined roles from the outset, misunderstandings will be at a minimum.
3: The 10 minute rule
I have found this is a simple yet effective way to ensure a parent does not over step the mark and create unwanted stress for the child. After a match, and always at the venue, the parent can talk to the child for 10 minutes about the match. After that, no tennis should be discussed, not in the car and surely not at home. When talking to the child consider the following -
Ask them, did you enjoy todays match? What did they do well?
Comment/ appreciate on one or two well played points that your child played,
Tell the child how proud you are of them how they fought very hard and showed good behaviour.
4: Look for the best possible training/ coaching
When a child starts learning tennis the majority of lessons will be based on establishing sound technical fundamentals. Ensuring your child is working with a senior, experienced coach who has a history of developing solid juniors is a must. Not only do you want this coach to be knowledgeable but also to be passionate about what he does. Remember beginners love the coach before they love the sport. If the coach can provide a positive learning environment that emphasises effort over outcome you will surely be giving your child a head start in his tennis career.
5: Sport is unfair
It can be very frustrating when a parent sees their child giving their best efforts only for the child opponent/ tournament organiser to be unfair in their calls or rulings. One of the major reasons a parent should place their child in sport is so as the child can develop certain character traits that will be needed for life both on and off the court. As a parent it is imperative that you do not get involved should any unfairness take place. Let the officials handle it. Your involvement will only make the situation worse and have a negative impact on your child. Remember you are the adult, so you must act like an adult. After the match, praise your child for how well they handled the situation.
At Accelerate Tennis parents are welcome on a bi-weekly basis to come and meet the coaches face to face to discuss their child’s development. Along with bi-monthly written progress reports, parents are consistently updated about their child’s development.
Parents, you are a vital component to your child’s development and future success. Be a positive one.