In my last blog I raised the ‘parent sportsmanship’ challenge; can you keep your emotions in check and stay relaxed so it is not obvious whether your child is winning or losing? Though in fact the real challenge is trying to remain calm. This is the best support you can give your child during a match and then immediately afterwards. This blog recommends six techniques that I have tried in the search for inner calm or other parents have suggested to me.
- Smile! Yes it sounds simple yet also so hard but it is true that if you can smile you will stay calmer. I particularly like the idea of breathing to calm down and then breathe out with a smile.
- Make two lists. The first list is all the things that your child has done right. It could be individual shots or rallies and certain points in the match or it could be tactics or strategies that they have employed. The second list is things that have frustrated you during the match. It could be when your child has struggled with their tactics or it could be the way that they have managed their emotions. Before the match ends, pick up the negative list, rip it up and throw the bits in the bin. There is nothing to be gained by sharing these with your child and the act of destroying the list is a way of emptying your mind of them. The positive list are things to share with your child and you choose when is the most appropriate time.
- Do some counting! Why not count different aspects of your child’s tennis. I have found that by doing this, you reduce your stress over points in the match. You could count how many shots each point lasts or much more complex things too. Below is some counting I have done and here is the explanation. (http://ow.ly/BAJr30gCWEK)
- Try and sit where you do not have an exact view of lines. Don’t sit immediately behind the courts or on the baseline. If you have a view akin to that of a line judge you will inevitably see mistakes from both players which are likely to be purely accidental. You will actually have a better view than players who are also trying to hit their shots at the same time. If you sit a little distance from the court you can try and enjoy watching their rallies and at times being unaware of the exact score can be a good feeling.
- I always have a flask of coffee with me and pour myself lots of small drinks. I never fill my cup as I find the act of taking the top of the flask, pouring a small slug of coffee, putting the lid back on and then sipping the drink quite therapeutic. It is also a small physical activity to do with my hands.
- Try and practice mindfulness, so stay in the moment rather than trying to work out the rest of the draw and the possible result of each win and loss. See my blog on mindfulness.
If you have suggestions of your own, then I’d love to hear them. Why not leave your thoughts as a comment below for other readers to see.
I am a tennis parent, educationalist and author. My guide for tennis parents is written and I’m now looking for a publisher. Please follow me on on twitter @tennisdaduk.
Responses from Twitter:
@jameswweir1 – A great article, I’ve been to many competitions with my girls and keeping calm and giving the right support is not easy, enjoying the blog!
@handwtennis – One of the best blogs out there.