Monthly Archives: May 2014

Positive Diaries


In my last blog I gave an introduction to Life Coaching and Neuro Linguistic Programming and commented that there were lots of useful techniques which may help your junior tennis player. The first technique I want to look at is a ‘Positive Diary’. I’ve used this with pupils when I was teaching Maths, my son for his tennis and also myself when work has been tough!

As a classroom teacher I would sometimes find with some pupils that they had difficulty or lack of confidence in only one subject. Ironically I taught Maths and often this lack of confidence was in my subject.

‘What have I achieved today?’

I would suggest to the pupil that at the end of each lesson they should record at least one thing that they have been able to do in the lesson, under title of ‘What I have achieved today?’ The inside of the front cover of their exercise book was often a good place. These comments could be very specific points where the pupils consider the learning objectives that the teacher has shared with them at the beginning of the lesson and identify those that they have achieved or understood. Or the pupils could write more general positive thoughts related to presentation, accuracy, a verbal answer given or a piece of praise the teacher has given them.

‘What three things did you do well?’

You could do the same thing after a lesson or a match where your child has to write three things that they did well. If they have lost a match and feel they have played terribly, they may find this really difficult and it may be something that you have to return too once they have calmed down. You could do the same thing when they are playing so that you have some good things to say no matter how badly it has gone.

The advantage of the children writing down a specific thing that they had understood was that when was building upon their learning in future lessons the pupils could relate the vocabulary used with previous positive thoughts. If a pupil retorted in a future lesson, ‘I can’t do this ….’ I would encourage the pupil to revisit their learning log and then they could see all the occasions when they have succeeded.

‘Remember when your serves were going well’

A good comparison here would be if they had been working on their serves in a lesson and they had gone well or in a match were their 1st serve percentage was high and their double fault percentage was low, write it down. If in future their serves have gone badly, it happens to the best, ask them to read the times when they have been positive about them.

A tough match

If I thought the topic I was about to teach was challenging to that pupil I would ask them to spend a few moments reading their positive points at the beginning of the lesson. You could do the same if your child is about to play a really tough match either one against a much higher rated player or maybe one of those occasions when you just know it’s going to be close. If they can go on court thinking of positive previous experiences it can only help them.

Discussing the Positive Diary

Not many of our children’s coaches are able to attend competitions so you could encourage your child’s coach to spend five minutes discussing the positive diary with your child, so that your child could explain their positive statements to them. Hopefully this will mean that they begin the lesson in a good frame of mind.

Coaching confidence is as important as coaching shots

There are times when we watch our children play tennis and we can see that they are suffering from a lack of confidence. It may be their enthusiasm or lack of it that they show towards competition, what you see in their body language when they are on court, the shots that they play or the way they react to the match going against them. As parents, we often just want to see our children approach life in general with confidence, let alone their tennis.

In ‘Dealing with Dips’ the link was made between junior tennis players and the group of pupils in schools who are labelled as Gifted & Talented. This group of children sometimes suffer from a lack of confidence as they approach their studies and the skills and techniques which schools use to help support them may be equally useful as you try to help build your child’s confidence when they are in a dip which is damaging their confidence.

A method that is increasingly amongst adults with dealing with the stresses and strains of everyday life is Life Coaching. In effect many of the ideas from life coaching whether you read, ‘Feel the Fear and do it anyway’ or one of Fiona Harrold’s books are all based around building confidence. In effect life coaching is a form of mentoring, which gives individuals the confidence and ability to move forward in a positive manner areas of their lives where they crave change. Life coaching is an approach that looks at the present and sets goals for successful future. For our children, success could be walking tall onto the court and approaching a match with a can-do attitude.

Life coaching is not counselling or consulting but a different form of intervention. In terms of supporting our children with their tennis we do not necessarily need to move to deeply towards the long term goals which adult life coaching may look at. However what is very useful are the techniques which coaches will use to help people work towards their goals. You may also know some of these techniques as aspects of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) which just means training the brain to act in a certain way, particularly when under stress.

As a secondary school teacher, I would explain this background to G&T pupils as I found that they have been often very interested in the power of the mind especially when it is linked to famous people who have achieved success. Those with a scientific bent enjoyed the psychology behind the ideas. Whereas those pupils with sporting or dramatic talents were fascinated by how particular performers have used these techniques to reach the top. I also used to find that they would be interested in the techniques as they would see them as being for adults which were rarely taught in schools. Depending on the age of your child it may be just a question of working through the techniques over time.

In my next blogs I will cover four techniques including writing a positive log, creating a wall of positivity, visualisation and self-affirmation. In the meantime why not have a look at any self-help, life coaching or NLP books that may be on your bookshelves, flick through the pages and consider what links you could see between the ideas in them and your child’s tennis.