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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
I agree, however ....
I agree with each point you make, however, and there's always a however, it can be very difficult adhering to "being an ideal tennis parent" for many reasons, all the time.
I recently read an article, "Understanding Parental Stressors: An Investigation of British Tennis Parents", which discusses particular stressors, such as financial or time commitment which may influence tennis parents behaviour. Please have a look if you can get a copy - it's absolutely spot on.
Also, in order to come to terms with my own tennis parenting, I've developed my own website, www.madtennisparents.com. It allows me to vent a lot of my negative emotions, which is beneficial in what can be a potentially highly stressful environment. Please have a look at my guides on tennis parenting.
I'd be interested in finding out what your thoughts are on the above.
i agree with you totally.when i see the parents abusing the kids on the tennis courts,i really pity the kids.this site is a must for every tennis parent.first the parents have to be patient and tolerant.parents should stop playing tennis from outside.let the child enjoy the match.finally tennis is like anyother game.
As a Tennis Coach for High School, I rarely find time for Private Tennis Instructions, however I do know a little about how it goes from friends that do private lessons. Being a parent of a young aspiring Professional Tennis Player is not very much different than any other livelihood that promises to yield great benefits if thousands of variables fall into place.
I know a Couple in our Community, who is spending an enormous amount of money on Cello lessons for their child in hopes of her becoming a successful Cellist because according to many, at the ripe old age of 12 yrs old, she's impressive. And another set of parents that I speak with at the School, who's oldest Son is hoping to become a Major League Baseball Pitcher someday, are not only spending money on his training but are taking control of his management, which seems to be at the core of the Terrible Parent Syndrome.
What they all want is for their children to be successful in life and are willing to do whatever they can to make that happen. I tend to give parents a little break because I believe few parents jump into this new adventure with complete knowledge of what they expect the Path to Success is like and people let's not lose sight of the fact that the Path to Success, is very different for each person.
I know many think greed was at the root of most Parent / Tennis Star problems for every promising Tennis Star, who's bubble burst far too soon.
But take a moment and consider how you would act if your child appeared to be gifted above & beyond the norm? Would you simply sit back allowing a hoard of strange people come into your life, take over your kids future by governing their every move, negotiating their every contract, dictating what is best for your kid because they're professionals? Well depending on how insecure you might be, I hardly think so.
Before you beat up on the parents too much, remember that in their heads, all they are doing is what they think is right, having no previous experience in Contract negotiations, Media Event scheduling, Training Regime and every other aspect of their Child's new life with desires of advancing their career.
They can't do it and even if they try, they can't do it well. Every parent of a young tennis player turning Pro, will need the guidance of a professional service to assist them managing their child's Tennis future.
Last I must include this consideration. I am willing to believe there isn't one single terrible tennis parent, that began reigning havoc into their child's life fully aware of the negative consequence that will ensue. But along with the Kid's life dramatically changing as a result of their sudden surge of celebrity, the parent's life too has changed dramatically and maybe we like to think because they are adults, they should be able to handle it but parents are more or less just older kids very much capable of being over-whelmed and probably more so for the parents, given when things get tough, a tennis player can go out and hit some balls to relieve stress but the parent, has the daunting task of being the Watchdog over a World they don't fully understand.
Absolutely no parent should dive into the World of Professional Tennis for their Child without good sound advice & guidance from an agency that knows what this World is all about. I recommend contacting the USPTA, informing them that as the Parent(s)/Guardian of a child who wants to turn Pro, you'd like as much advice as possible on how to handle this change in your family's future & life style.
This is the address and phone contact for the USPTA. If your teenager is turning or has turned Pro, stop reading this and call or write the United States Professional Tennis Association and ask them to help you make good decisions.
USPTA World Headquarters
3535 Briarpark Drive, Suite One
Houston, TX 77042
Phone - (713) 978-7782
Fax - (713) 978-7780
The only acceptable loss is when your opponent was better than you on that given day.
It is never acceptable to lose when your opponent was not.
As a tennis coach I see it all the time. Parents are crazy when it comes to their kids.
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