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.