Parents and Their Sons and Daughters
• Be ready to help emotionally and offer encouragement especially when your children face hard times. Do not use punishment and withdrawal of love, affection and warmth to get your children to try harder or perform better.
• Make your child feel valuable and reinforce his self-esteem especially when s/he loses. AVOID criticising your children’s results.
• Clearly state that your child is playing and you will be there encouraging him/her if he wants you to be. Do not make statements like, “We’re playing today,” as if you were going to be on court too.
• Recognise your child’s achievements in tennis but keep their feet firmly on the ground by keeping sporting results in perspective. AVOID placing them on a pedestal.
• Emphasise that, “Win or lose, I love you just the same”. Do not get upset or treat your child differently when s/he loses.
• Stay throughout the match and show your child you care and you value his or her effort by not overreacting to positive or negative situations. Don’t walk away from a match because your child is doing badly.
• Ask questions such as, How was the Match? How did you play? Did you enjoy it? which show you care about your child and their performance/ enjoyment rather than the result. AVOID asking, “Did you win?” after your child comes back from a match.
• AVOID over training and burnout. Don’t forget that your child is still growing.
• Be supportive (financially and otherwise), reinforcing that you are happy to support your child’s involvement in tennis. AVOID fostering guilt by making your child feel that he owes you for the time, money and sacrifices you have made.
• Try to encourage your child to be independent and to think for himself/ herself. Do not coach from the sidelines.
• Following a loss by your child, keep the loss in perspective by emphasising that it is only a tennis match. However bad the result was, the world hasn’t come to an end and the sun will come up again tomorrow. Do not verbally abuse your child particularly following a loss.
• Try to be honest and consistent when communicating with your child about his tennis. Do not tell lies.
• Encourage your child to take responsibility for their success or failure and to face up to the reality of the match and their actions. (e.g. “it was the same surface for both of you”). The main objective should be, whatever the conditions, to help them to focus on trying their best. Then they will always be “true winners”. AVOID making excuses for your child (“the court was too slow”, “the opponent was lucky”, blame the umpire etc.).
• Show your interest in your child’s tennis by attending events occasionally. However, AVOID attending every practice and every match.
• Let the coach decide how much your child should practice. AVOID criticising your child for failure to play more tennis, or forcing him/her to train. Remember, when it comes to training, quality is more important than quantity.
• Understand the risks and look for the signs of stress (sleeplessness, hypercriticism, cheating, etc.). Be sensitive to your child’s expressions of insecurity and anxiety resulting from their involvement in competitive sport.
• The only expectation that you should have from your child’s involvement in tennis is that playing tennis will help him/ her to become a better person and athlete. Anything else will be a bonus. Do not assume or expect that your child will become a successful professional tennis player.
• Encourage your child to play other sports, to build relationships and to participate in other activities. AVOID forcing your child to focus entirely on tennis.
• Compare your child’s progress with his/ her own abilities/ goals. Do not compare your child’s progress with that of other children.
• Try to motivate your child in a positive and caring way (e.g. positive reinforcement). A ratio of 3:1 positive comments to each negative one is a good guide for giving effective feedback to your child. Do not harass or use sarcasm to motivate your child.
• Ensure your child respects the principles of good sportsmanship, behaviour and ethics. Do not ignore your child’s poor behaviour (cheating, using abusive language or treating others with disrespect) or overlooking critical areas of your child’s development at the expense of tennis. If this type of behaviour occurs, get involved quickly and be prepared to act if his behaviour is unacceptable.
• Reward your child for what s/he is as a human being not as a tennis player. Do not tie special privileges, prizes, external rewards, etc., to winning in tennis.
• Understand that you and your child need to share other interests and will often need a break from tennis. AVOID arguing or spending too much time speaking about tennis with your child.
• Yours child’s welfare and well being is the most important thing. Do not let your child’s tennis become more important to you than your child.
• Realise that tennis players usually need some space when they lose. A pat on the back or an unemotional word of encouragement is often sufficient as the player leaves the court. You can discuss the match when they are less emotional.
T.I. fact sheet 33
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