Monthly Archives: August 2014

Why not play in a competition yourself?

Aubeterre Tennis

I have a confession to make. Whilst my son has now played almost 150 tennis competitions and my eight year old daughter has played in over 60 events, I have never played a competitive tennis fixture. The closest I’ve come has been the Friday evening social tennis at the club where my children play.

This season my son has regularly been saying to me, ‘You don’t know what it’s like’ and whilst I can talk about experiences from my own sport, he’s right. I do know what it likes to serve for a match or to stay in a match. I do not how it feels it hit double faults which could I mean I get knocked out. So this summer I decided to put that right and to expose myself to that pressure.

We holidayed in France this year and I wanted both my children to enter the competition at the local club. Both of them were a little reluctant so to encourage them I signed up for the competition too. In future blogs I’ll discuss French competitions and playing in a different country when your own language skills are very limited but this is about how I find competition.

I suppose the first big difference between my competition and my children’s is that my aim was not to embarrass myself whereas they both want to win. Once I was in the heat of the match my competitive nature did take over but the reality was I was still playing trying not to lose rather than to win.

It is certainly different hitting those second serves, especially on break point down and there were times when I double faulted on this point. I also found the annoyance of trying to hit a winner when I created the opening only for my top spin to sail long or wide. The frustration of the scoring system was also there. That feeling of being 30-0 down and recognising the difference that one point would make either way.

One of the things that I have often discussed with my son is that at any stage in a match, anyone can win a few games on the trot but if you are the better player you just have to stay patient that your opponent will not keep this going. In my second match this duly happened and after winning the 1st set 6-1, and then being 3-2 up in the second set, I suddenly found myself set point down at 5-3. I believed that his luck would not hold and I had to keep playing my game. Ten minutes or so later, I was receiving for the set at 6-5 and I won the match.

My son did actually come and watch this match though I think he paid more attention to the Pokémon on his DS and that of his friends.

I did enjoy the experience and I certainly have more sympathy with my children’s travails than before. I played three matches in three days and my whole body was aching before the third even as someone who runs 5k’s every day. I This certainly helped me understand my son’s complaints of going back for the 2nd day of a competition.

I don’t know if I’ll play another match but it certainly was a really interesting experience. If you are a tennis parent and have never played a match, I would certainly say it was very worthwhile in trying to understand a little of the pressure that our children are under.

Ps the picture is of Aubeterre tennis club in the Charente but its not me!

Wall of Positivity

Wall of positivity

Yesterday whilst I was watching my son play in his latest tennis tournament I was yet again struck that the winner of the matches tended to be the player who managed their positivity and negativity best. The winner would be the player who stuck at the match and did not have the full rollercoaster of emotions. In my previous blog I wrote about the idea of a positive diary. Another technique which you can use is to create a wall of positivity in your child’s bedroom. This can be quite a fun task which you could work on with your child.

I am sure that if your child has gained some trophies from their tennis (or any activity) these are often very treasured possessions of which the value to your child (and to you) is disproportionate to their monetary value. These small items are obvious examples of the positives that your child has gained from their sport. However these medals or trophies will only be a small amount of the success that your child has had and are only some examples of the positives.

In my son’s bedroom we have made a number of posters… probably too grand a word, I have drawn on A4 paper with felt tips pens.

The first set are two are lists of all his competition 1st and 2nds. I have found that many of the tournaments do not give out ‘silverware’ and it can be easy to lose track of all those good results.

The second set of posters are his position in the end of the season leaderboards (county, regional and national) and how his ranking has changed over time. This has been particularly useful when he has changed age range and is having to start from the bottom again. Children often forget this journey and remember the end points along the way and forget the progress they have made.

Thirdly I have made two signs with my son’s name in and pictures of him playing. One says ‘—– is a top tennis player’ and the second says ‘—— is champion tennis player’ with the date of his first competition win.

Finally we put up two sets of motivational posters. One is based on tennis alliterations that my son and I created together and include:
Ferocious forehands
Slamming serves
Venomous volleys
Devilish dropshots
Blistering Backhands

We also discussed positive phrases that he could use in a match and made motivational posters of them including:
I can do this
One more point
In with spin
On my toes

It has been a fun thing to make together and constantly highlights the power of positive thinking. The club house at the most recent tennis tournament also had positive phrases from famous sports people which my son found interesting. Perhaps that will be the next thing we do to keep ‘the wall of positivity’ fresh.