Tennis parenting through the looking glass

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“Why it’s simply impassible!

Alice: Why, don’t you mean impossible?

Door: No, I do mean impassible. (chuckles) Nothing’s impossible!”

Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

How many times have we watched our child play and at the end of the match had a list of situations that we wished to discuss with them. Hoping that they would reflect on a small aspect of their game that with a little tweak would improve their chances. It might be an aspect of positioning, the right time to play a certain shot or a discussion on positive thinking.

We might wait until the end of the competition, till the next day or to the next coaching session to try and help our child reflect more deeply and hope that the learning points may be more sustained.

Yet how often do we reflect on our parenting? Do you reflect on what is the best message to give your child? Or when is the most effective time to do this? We are all looking for the small margins that will make a difference to our child’s game and one of those could be reflecting on how we help the most effectively.

The theory

“I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it.”

Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

Those in education may have the heard of the concept of double loop learning, something that Schon described in his work on the ‘Reflective practitioner’. The idea is quite simple. When you are talking to your child, there is the first loop of learning were you are helping your child learn. The second loop is when you reflect on how effective has your conversation been. Teachers will use this idea as a reflective practitioner by thinking what have the children learnt in a lesson and then consider how could their teaching have improved.

The Practice

The next time you have a list of points, which you wish to discuss with your child, why not also think

  • When is the best time to discuss this?
  • When you are having the conversation, how is your child engaging?
  • What impact do you notice in your child’s game in the future?


“I knew who I was this morning, but I’ve changed a few times since then.”

Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

That really is careful reflection.

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