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  1. #1
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    Nightmare tennis parents who don't play ball

    Judy Murray tells Mark Hodgkinson about adult faults in junior sport


    Never mind the kids; have you seen the parents? On Britain's junior tennis scene, it's not uncommon to see destructive and dysfunctional behaviour.

    Often it's not the aspiring Wimbledon champions of the future, but their sour-faced parents looking on from the side of the court, who are more deserving of being slapped down with an Asbo.

    The acting world's notorious "stage mums" often have nothing on "nightmare tennis parents". Every local club or junior tournament will have its "bad dad" or "mad mum": parents who are so hell-bent on their offspring growing up to become tennis stars that they will stop at nothing.

    Good sense and manners are squelched underfoot, and the ambitious parents usually don't realise what effect they are having on their children.

    Intimidating their child's opponents during matches; illegally coaching their son or daughter and screaming abuse at them if they lose: it all goes on, and ultimately it's the children who suffer.

    "I have seen parents verbally and physically abuse their own children," Andy Murray's mother, Judy, says. "Probably the worst I ever saw was a father with his 12-year-old daughter outside the hall of an indoor tournament. He had his hand around her throat.

    "She had just lost a match, and the father was clearly not happy about it. He was intimidating and scaring his daughter. I've seen lots of parents screaming or shouting at their kids, or ignoring them, after they've lost a match.

    "That can put huge pressure on kids to win at a stage when the emphasis should be on fun. Most tennis parents are normal, but some lose a sense of perspective."

    Judy, whose oldest son, Jamie, is the defending Wimbledon mixed doubles champion, said that one of the worst things that parents do at junior level is "trying to intimidate or distract their children's opponents".

    "It happens quite a lot in the younger age groups, and it's quite sad to see," she says. "You see kids playing in under-10 tournaments, and there will be parents deliberately applauding when their kid's opponent makes a mistake. They call balls out from the sidelines and clap loudly if any shots land close to the lines so the opponent is afraid to call them out.

    "Most junior matches are not umpired so when there is a disputed call, some parents try to influence the outcome, instead of letting the kids sort it out.

    "I remember one parent trying to intimidate Andy in an under-12 boys' doubles match. The dad was applauding Andy's double-faults and shouting loudly. Andy ended up hitting a ball towards him, as if to say, 'Will you just shut up?' I've never got into arguments with other parents. It's not worth it."
    Judy says that parents must avoid the temptation to illegally coach their children.

    "Some parents send on bottles of water with notes saying things like, 'Hit it to the backhand'," she says. "I've seen parents reading newspapers from behind the court during matches, with instructions written in big bold letters on the back pages.

    "There are parents who have devised coded signals, so if they scratch their right ear that means serve to the forehand, and if they scratch their left ear that means serving to the backhand."
    For nightmare tennis parents, the absolute gold standard is still Damir Dokic, a bearded former wrestler and truck driver from Serbia. Jelena Dokic's father was thrown out of a pre-Wimbledon tournament in Birmingham in 1999 after calling members of the tennis club "Nazis who supported the bombing of Yugoslavia".

    On the same day he was arrested after lying down in a busy road. Here is a man whose temper is beyond volcanic: he shows all the cool and calm of a man who has been gargling magma.

    His misdemeanours include being forcibly ejected from the US Open after arguing over the price of salmon in the players' restaurant, smashing a journalist's mobile telephone at Wimbledon and claiming that the draw at the Australian Open had been rigged against his daughter.

    Unsurprisingly, Jelena, who once reached the Wimbledon semi-finals, eventually decided she wanted no more to do with him. She later switched nationality, playing under the Australian flag. Damir threatened to retaliate by dropping a nuclear warhead on Australia.

    Mary Pierce, a grand slam champion, ended up taking out a restraining order against her father, Jim. He famously called out from the stands during one of her matches: "Go on, Mary, kill the bitch."

    One great danger that Judy speaks about is parents pushing their children into playing competitive tennis.

    "It's important to know why the child is playing, as it has to be because they love tennis," she says. "Sadly, you do get instances of parents who are living their dreams through their children. The parents didn't get as far as they wanted when they were playing, so they will try to get their kids to win the tournaments for them. At the end of the day, it should all be about the kids.

    "I'm always getting asked if I was a pushy parent. I'll admit I often had to push to make things happen but I never had to push my kids because they always wanted to play."

    Read Judy Murray at www.britishtennisparents.com


    Are you pushing too hard?

    Do you press your nose up against the back-netting of a tennis court, and attempt to intimidate your child's opponent by loudly applauding their mistakes?
    Have you devised a secret code to enable you to illegally coach your child during matches?
    Do you regularly become involved in disputes over line-calls during your child's matches?
    Have you ever chosen to lie about whether a ball has landed in or out?
    Does your child look terrified about your reaction after they have lost a match?
    Do you feel that you have more riding on your child's results than they do?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    This is tennis life!!!!

  3. #3

    All over

    It seems to be going on in Australia so i guess it goes on all over. Parents are blind when it comes to their childerns ability and willing to do most anything to keep the dream alive.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Sea Pines, Hilton Head, South Carolina
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    Come to Florida!!!!! Woooooooo! I took a player to the Southern Junior Open and this guy pulled a gun on one of the refs out in the parking lot because he thought the guy had made bad calls against his daughter. Hows that for sportmanship? Thank goodness the cops came and picked the guy up.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
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    240
    Yeah, we seem to have plenty of those guys in Aus.
    Not many abuse physically but the happen to yell out a lot during the matches [the most common form of abusive parents]
    One father I know even makes his kids train 8 hours a day. And then after that makes them go home and use the indoor gym for another half hour. and believe it or not these kids are only 7 years old.
    It's awful -_-
    Why am I fighting to live, if I'm just living to fight
    Why am I trying to see, when there aint nothing in sight
    Why am I trying to give, when no one gives me a try
    Why am I dying to live, if I'm just living to die?
    -Tupac Shakur

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Sea Pines, Hilton Head, South Carolina
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robyna View Post
    Yeah, we seem to have plenty of those guys in Aus.
    Not many abuse physically but the happen to yell out a lot during the matches [the most common form of abusive parents]
    One father I know even makes his kids train 8 hours a day. And then after that makes them go home and use the indoor gym for another half hour. and believe it or not these kids are only 7 years old.
    It's awful -_-
    They will be finished with tennis as soon as they are able to rebel against their father. 8 hours? The only player that I know of that played that much was Agassi. He hit 14,000 or so balls a week as a 7 year old, but I think he loved doing it. I could be wrong though. If those kids love it, then hey, keep it going. If they don't, it's going to be over soon enough.

  7. #7
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    Mar 2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by tennisking1 View Post
    They will be finished with tennis as soon as they are able to rebel against their father. 8 hours? The only player that I know of that played that much was Agassi. He hit 14,000 or so balls a week as a 7 year old, but I think he loved doing it. I could be wrong though. If those kids love it, then hey, keep it going. If they don't, it's going to be over soon enough.
    Oh no for children of there age it is nothing but torture. they cry everyday and beg there father to let them have some water.
    its different if you love doing it. Sometime I train for 7 hours a day then another 3 at the gym.. but I love it which makes a big difference.
    But those kids don't even like it and want nothing but to quit.
    And the worst thing is that they used to love tennis but because of their father they now hate it.
    Why am I fighting to live, if I'm just living to fight
    Why am I trying to see, when there aint nothing in sight
    Why am I trying to give, when no one gives me a try
    Why am I dying to live, if I'm just living to die?
    -Tupac Shakur

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Sea Pines, Hilton Head, South Carolina
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robyna View Post
    Oh no for children of there age it is nothing but torture. they cry everyday and beg there father to let them have some water.
    its different if you love doing it. Sometime I train for 7 hours a day then another 3 at the gym.. but I love it which makes a big difference.
    But those kids don't even like it and want nothing but to quit.
    And the worst thing is that they used to love tennis but because of their father they now hate it.
    They'll be done with tennis soon enough.........

  9. #9
    Being a coach I have seen my fair share of bad parents. Sometimes I think the parents are more into the match then the players. It can be very disruptive to the kids when they see their parents act this way. Here is an article that all parents should read if there kids play a sport. Parents in youth sports

  10. #10
    Many parents need more guidance than their junior players when it comes to understanding the sport of tennis. Unfortunately, too many coaches shy away from communication with parents, and this is especially unfortunate for those children enthusiastic about the sport and intent on serious participation. Although communicating with tennis parents can be a delicate matter, it is essential for true progress and the wellbeing of the child. Taking the time to learn fundamental communication skills will pay dividends for any coach working with juniors and their parents.

    Oscar Wegner is a proponent of including parents in the teaching process of children at all ages and ability levels. In his Elite Training Program he describes the relationship of coach, player and parent as a "team"dedicated to working cooperatively to achieve the best results for all concerned.
    How good can your game get? You too can play like the Pros with The Wegner Method.
    Discuss The Wegner Method here at TW in the MTM forum or visit www.tennisteacher.com for more info.

  11. #11
    I call them psychotic parents....... They are plenty of them out there...... Beware of the ones that say to you that they only want what is best for their child...... The problem is that the kids will give up the game due to pressure. They will also have difficulty in all other aspects as they wiill not be able to keep up with their parents standards.

  12. #12
    They need to step back. Life needs to be enjoyed. Sport is for fun.......

  13. #13
    Tennis is a sport in which parents are important too. As a coach you have to co-operate with parents because they are part of the team. It isn’t easy as everything is new for them. It is important to educate them that tennis is not the only way to be successful in life, that it is not the end of the world if their child loses a match and that they should not turn a blind eye to any bad behaviour by their child on court. They should also not encourage their child to play when they are injured or allow a situation to develop where their child is frightened of losing because of the way they respond. It is also important as a coach to make sure that the parent does not neglect their less talented children. The researcher feels that if a parent does not have a positive influence on their child they will quit tennis at a very early age. He needs to target these parents and educate them to play a more proactive role in their children’s live as failure to do so will hamper his business potential.

  14. #14
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    Canada
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