What to Know if You are a Tennis Parent
- Make it fun! Remember that it’s a game, and a great way to spend time learning and improving with your child. There will almost certainly be challenges, but how you overcome those challenges together is most important. Don’t sink into an antagonistic relationship with your child, where you fight out on the court. This doesn’t benefit their game, or your relationship with them.
- By making it fun for your child, and giving them selective positive re-enforcement, they will become encouraged to teach themselves, learn more, and spend more time on the court. Most kids desire strongly the approval of their parents.
- Don’t nag or criticize your child. They’re trying their best out there and your job should be to encourage them through the tough points, or the times where they want to quit.
- Have a clear goal or reason in your mind for why your child is learning – for instance, are you doing it just for fun? For exercise? To learn social or life skills? Maybe something they can use down the road? Or are you aiming for them to get a scholarship to college, or even become pro? Whatever the aim is, have it clear in your mind so you can devote your energy properly.
- Don’t interfere between players during a match. The moment your kid steps out onto that court, it’s entirely up to them to determine the outcome of the match. It’s one of the nice and challenging things about tennis – it’s an individual sport where you have to be self-aware and independent.
- Don’t coach from the sidelines or encourage cheating. These are not the values you want to instill in your child (I hope!!).
- Do help them get prepared for their tournaments, and make them adopt full responsibility for packing their bag.
- Do your best to learn the game through readings, videos, and online resources. This will not only help you take on the role as coach, but help you figure out when a paid-for coach is full of B.S.
- Ensure the coaches you pay for are not teaching your child bad habits.
- Above all else, be thoughtful and calm. Try to understand that your child has a lot going on in their mind, and they are likely struggling with the nerves and stress of match play. There will be tough times, tough losses, and some silly tennis drama. But most importantly, your child needs to overcome those challenges, learn values, work hard, and be happy with their good shots.