We all want our children to play tennis in the right way. We know that if they stay calm and positive, they will have more chance of being able to play their best. We all give advice of what is the right way of approaching a match and performing during it. We may even give a careful (or maybe not) analysis of how they could have improved. However rather than doing what we say, do our actions compare with our comments. Here are some thoughts of how you can set the right example as a tennis parent:
1) Stay calm… Do you? Are you modelling calm during a match or are you striding about, walking off during key points, making gesticulations or even voicing comments. We may say its harder to watch but we are the adult so we need to show the calmness we wish from our child. So chew that gum, sit on your hands, make some notes and breath in slowly and exhale with a smile.
2) Be generous… I am very proud when my son congratulates his opponent when they hit a good shot. We should also do the same, no matter how frustrated we feel. However take care that such comments do not appear as sarcasm towards your child. Applaud the winners from both children.
3) Be friendly… No matter how you feel, congratulate your child’s opponent if they won and pass some pleasantries with their parents. You may even be able to socialise with your opponents with your child’s opponent during the match. This sets a powerful example to your child that it is only a game.
4) Never ever criticise line calls… However bad it looks, we have to give the opponent the benefit of the doubt. I’ve tried the experiment with tennis parents who are my friends, we’ve watched the same ball and both been equally sure of an opposite line call.
5) Don’t make your child the star… No matter how good your child is and how much better they are than their opponent, take time to talk to and even encourage the other children. There is nothing worse than the parent who thinks talking to a weaker child (or the child’s parent) is beneath them. Such actions can only breed arrogance when we know the true champions show humility.
6) Be positive… Do not criticise other players, parents, coaches or competition organisers in front of your children. Instead try and show a positive outlook to your child, highlight the good you see not the bad.
7) Finally, remember the ‘growth mindset model’ and praise the effort and not the result. The time to really tell your child how great they are and give them that hug is after the terrible, gut wrenching loss.
As I often think, our children are mini-me’s, we need to show them how we’d truly like them to be.
I am currently writing a book for tennis parents and I am looking for parents (and coaches) who would be prepared to write me a paragraph which I could include in the book. If you are interested then please contact me via twitter or in the comments section on the blog.
Comments from twitter:
@Ferndown_Tennis – Great advice for any parent or coach who promotes competition in the right way!
@adkinsred – great read