The role of the parent is crucial in developing successful tennis players. If parents cooperate with the coach the chances are really big that player will develop in the fastest possible way. Tennis career is a long-term process so it is important to take care of all details because one small thing can result in lost potential and early retirement of the player. All parents want to do everything for own child so is it possible that they do things that keep the progress slower? Unfortunately yes…
We all make mistakes. Players make mistakes, coaches don’t do everything right every time as also parents have negative influence on own kid’s career. There are many factors responsible for this fact but it all starts with the awareness. If parents know what their role is and how they should act toward own kid it is much more possible that these actions will help, not hinder the improvement process.
The most common problem of many parents is the lack of knowledge. Parents spend a lot of money on professional coaching, they go to the tournament and … they lose all the work done by the player. Of course it is not the goal for the parents but the final effect is as it is. Tournament is a stressful experience for every player so we can imagine what is going on in the player’s head if parents add additional pressure with their actions. Tennis is a mental game where emotional control and ability to deal with stress are crucial skills that all players have to try to possess. Parents who unconsciously make this process more difficult are like another opponent to beat so player has to play against the rivals on and off the court. As a tennis coach I have seen many talented players who will never achieve their greatness because their parents don’t want to change own behavior. This sad fact shows how important the role of parent is and that is why this article shows the areas that all parents should check in their tournament behaviors. If you find one or more of these actions as your own do everything to exclude them at the first possible tournament to be the support for your child; not another opponent to fight with.
Wrong body language
Players learn how to behave between the points so parents have to make the same kind of effort to possess this ability. Body language is an important mental aspect. From the player’s perspective right body language helps to focus, control emotions, and build strong image for the opponent. On the other hand from the parent’s perspective proper body language is the crucial form of support because everybody is discouraged if the parents show that they are not happy with the last play. Behaving well while watching the match is a skill and many parents don’t have it so if you want to be a good parent and help your kid achieve the dreams start working on good body language. Take a look at coaches on the professional tour and see how they react after the lost points. All the actions show encouragement or support; not the anger!
Tournament is the test for all skills acquired during the practice sessions. Players work really hard every day to possess abilities that will help them get advantage over the opponent. The role of the coach is to teach responsibility to players so they are able to find a solution on their own while competing. Many times parents don’t understand that giving advices during the match is a simple cheating. The essence of a tennis match is to see who has more skills and who can use them more effectively to win the match. If the parent gives the strategy during each changeover it is no longer a match of 2 players. Additionally this action teaches players that they don’t have to look for solutions when the troubles come because there is always someone to help. This “support” is a short-term solution because player is able to win the match but is not going to improve the skills that will help in the long-term. What happens when player no longer travels with the parents to the tournament is the situation when he/she is not able to win any match because there is no responsibility and problem-solving skills. Parents! Talk to your kids after the match so they can learn – Don’t do this during the match because you harm your kid!
Everything is fine if you win
Another forbidden behavior that parents show really often is the focus on the score. Many parents forgive breaking the racquet or eating junk food as long as player wins the match. This approach is far away from the action that parents have to take to help own kids achieve their dreams. Score is not crucial; effort is! You have to teach your kids that no matter what they have to give their maximum effort every time. They can lose the match badly but there must be good behavior, hustle, and respect for the opponent and the game. If these factors are not presented by your child you should never be happy as a parent. Remember score of the match doesn’t make you a valuable human being so make sure that you teach right priorities by your actions. If your child doesn’t respect the rival make sure that you are the first person to make him/her aware of this bad behavior and don’t let it go because of one meaningless win.
It is really hard for players to have a successful career without an involvement of own parents. Relations with parents are sometimes good sometimes bad but players need support from their family to have a chance to fully focus on the sport. If there are some problems it will always negatively impact player’s performance. Parents! Remember you are as responsible for your kid success as the coach is so make sure that your actions during the tournament don’t hinder the athletic career.
Marcin Bieniek is a professional tennis coach and founder of instructional website http://tennisisland.us. Marcin has been working with USTA, top 50 ITF and WTA/ATP players. He is a frequent contributor to TennisPro and TenisKlub magazines and he was a speaker at International Coaching Tennis Symposium 2016 at Hilton Head Island, USA.