Monthly Archives: November 2013

Cruel losses: Find the positives

ImageDo you ever wonder who is affected most by the wins and losses on the tennis court? Is it you or your child?

As parents we want to see our children happy and coupled with that is the investment we are making. We transport our children all round the country in pursuit of another ranking win or a few more leaderboard points and whilst those matches are taking place we live every shot of every point. When the match is over we have to be as calm in congratulations as we are in commiserations. Ye underneath it really does have an impact upon us.

The tennis has to be about our children, we all know it would not be healthy for us to be trying to relive our own sporting careers through our children. Yet just like football supporters, a good win at the weekend can send us into the working week with a spring in our step.

What about those days when it just doesn’t go the way of our children? Do you start your Monday routine filled with infectious gloom whilst your child seems to have bounced back from those trials and tribulations faster than a yo-yo.

It is at these times that we have to remember it’s just a game! It is a leisure activity that if treated in the right way by us, the parents, has the opportunity to give our children a life time of pleasure along with many other lessons along the way.

We have to find the positive spin to put on it both for us and for our children.  On Saturday my child looked like he had found his way in a new age group for the first time and had two match points for a place in the final but the other child pulled out all the stops and managed to get the win. However disappointed I was for my own child, I had to admire his opponent’s fortitude.

As we drive home yesterday and during today, it has been very tempting to think of those two points. If just one had gone my son’s way, he might have even won the final. Yet in the long term does it really matter? Yes that was one ranking match that had gone the other way but there will be other chances to move up and there will be other chances to get to finals. There is always another competition.

Do those two points make any difference in the long term? Of course it doesn’t, instead it was another hour of practice that has been banked and another opportunity to groove shot after shot in a pressurised match situations. Losing those two points doesn’t alter that amount of purposeful practice. In addition it isn’t about which one of these young children is the best. If they keep playing they may play each two or three times a season and sometimes one will win and sometimes it will be reversed. They might have been competing against each other on Saturday but in the long term they are not. Instead they are both working as hard as each other to be the best player they can be.

So at the end of the weekend as I move my thoughts from the tennis courts to the stresses and strains of the day job, I will be proud of the way that he played. I am proud that he pushed it so far yet remained so sporting on those key points. I am also convinced that the match will help him become a better player in the future. It will be those thoughts that provide me with a smile for Monday morning.

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Long term thinking for tennis parents

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One of the trickiest challenges for tennis parents is to keep the long term view in mind and not be too affected by short term events. It can easy to be too pleased by a fine competition performance and also to be as depressed as your child, following a difficult day. You may even find that a bad tournament on a Saturday or Sunday stays with you into the working week whereas by the next day your child will have bounced back.

I like watching many sports but rather than being avid watcher of a single sport, I tend to watch the majors.  So at Easter I’ll probably tune into the US Masters for my only golf viewing of the year. There is one line that is often said by the commentators on the Thursday evening along the lines of, ‘you can’t win in round 1, you can only lose the event.’ The same is true of junior sport, your child is never going to master the sport at 11 or 12 instead every match is a learning opportunity.

It can be difficult to stay balanced in the heat of a match or when your little sportsman/woman is crying after a particularly disappointing loss. I was reminded of this today when my son, had a particularly bad day at the office. He got heavily beaten in his first match and it was easy to see where he had lost the match. All the way through he had kept going for winners often down the line and the result was shot after shot he blasted the ball long. I even heard him say during the match, ‘it was the right shot’ and he was right he had attacked at the right time. When he came off court we discussed the match, he knew straight away he was hitting a lot of balls out and I suggested when this was happening the most often.

I was about to say to him, ‘why don’t you just play safe, don’t go for the winners, just trade’. I stopped myself and remembered that telling someone in effect to be careful can have the opposite effect. How often have we told our children to be careful when they are holding something and then they drop it? What about your own childhood, remember climbing a tree or a wall, an adult told you not to fall and the first thing you did was to worry and in the worst case scenario the next thing you did was fall!

Instead of telling him to be careful or play safe instead I said, ‘if you are going for winners how can you have a better chance of getting them in?’ and we agreed that if you hit cross court, you have more court to aim at.

I was concentrating on the  long term view that in the future, he will have far more chance of winning matches if he can hit clean winning shots rather than if he has spent his junior tennis days at best trading and at worst moon-balling or hacking his way through competitions.

All day he kept going for his winners, importantly at the right time in the rally and unfortunately today was a day when they just did not work. During the day his accuracy did improve but the results didn’t. I just kept in my mind the thought of him blasting those shots as an older teenager, they’ll be far more effective at winning points than if he had just practised moon-balling.