Monthly Archives: December 2015

What I’ve learnt from junior tennis: Stay dedicated

Stay dedicated.jpg

I have a new attitude to my daughter’s tennis which is based on the motto above. We both have to stay dedicated…

Two competitions ago, my daughter got off to slow start. She likes to hit the ball and go for winners on the 2nd or 3rd ball of the rally. In fast 4 tennis, you only have to win 16 points and the set or match is yours but vice versa if you lose 16 points, it is gone. In her first matches the ball was hitting the net or sailing long, so my comment was just try to get the ball in play a bit more and let your opponent make the mistake. Lo behold she won her next three matches.

I mentioned this to one of her coaches and his comment was that hitting quick winners is her natural game and that’s what she should be working on. If competitions are to be a learning environment, she need to practice this in competitions so that it becomes a natural behaviour.

My daughter had another lesson and the feedback at the end of that lesson was that during competitions, she didn’t want advice, she wanted to work on her power game but if she wanted help she would ask. Hmmm, that’s a tough one for any parent. But those were the rules we set up… so I was going to stick with them.

In her latest competition, she quickly lost her first two matches because the small margins of her going for winners weren’t in her favour. I stuck with the game plan; chat about other things including the good shots we saw older teenage play and definitely not to encourage her to start ‘playing safe’.

In her next matches, the radar was up and running and in reply to exactly the same balls as before, her shots were now flying in and the ratio of points won moved in her favour. She stuck to her game plan and as she warmed up it began to work.

I’m sure over the next few months the period of time for her to ‘warm-up’ and find her radar will shorten but only if we keep encouraging this style of play. After all… it’s not going to happen overnight!

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What I’ve learnt from junior tennis…Keep learning

never stop learning

‘Learning never stops for a coach and player and building up that rapport and relationship comes with many ups and down.’ (tweeted by @40__Love).

The word coach could easily be swapped for mum and dad. As parents we also need to work on our rapport and relationship with our child too. It is all too easy to say something to our child that we would never say to somebody outside our family. Yet during a tennis competition when emotions are running high and children can be at their most sensitive and saying the wrong thing could have a catastrophic effect. (For more on this read ‘6 ideas to stay calm when your child is competing.‘)

stuck-in-concreteMy daughter had a ‘bad day at the office’ yesterday not helped by the fact that she was not feeling great the evening before and rather than being asleep at her usual time of 9pm, she was unhappy and awake at midnight. Hardly any surprise, that the next morning following an early alarm call and a two hour drive, she played as though her feet were encased in concrete.

This was not the day for the level of performance I would anticipate from her. Instead I knew that this was a competition just to get through without spirits or motivation dipping too far. So with that in mind, I sat with a fixed smile on my face and just told her to go for it. After each match, it was just a little encouragement rather than expectation. Then get home as quickly as possible with a MacDonald’s treat on the journey back.

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We’ll start again with the next coaching session and the next match and ‘know’ it will be better next time! We can both keep learning.

never stop learning henry ford.jpg

Good luck!

I am a tennis parent, educationalist and author. My guide for tennis parents is written and I’m now looking for a publisher. Please follow me on on twitter @tennisdaduk.