One thing that I love to do is watch my children play sports. It can be the most exhilarating experience or one of the most frustrating. Just remember that your children should be on the court because they want to not to fulfill your dreams. Your children will gravitate to and be successful at tennis if they feel progression, a sense of belonging and pride in themselves for playing. Follow the suggestions below to help ensure you have a tennis player for life.
- Treat your child the same whether he or she wins or loses.
- Try to have fun and enjoy the tournaments and the travel. Your unhappiness can breed a child’s guilt.
- Look relaxed, calm, positive, and energized on the sidelines. Your attitude will help the child to play better.
- Make friends with other parents at tournaments. Socializing can make the event more fun.
- Get involved if the child’s behavior is unacceptable during a match play. Your child doesn’t want to be labeled a jerk.
- Let the coach do the coaching. Too much input can confuse the child.
- Understand that the child needs a break from tennis occasionally. It doesn’t mean the child is quitting or burning out, they just need a break.
- Be there when the child loses or gets discouraged. Be an understanding listener, not a fixer.
- At the same time, give the child some space when he or she loses. Your youngster will want to be alone for a while, then he or she will be O.K. Don't press the conversation, they will talk about it when they are ready.
- Keep your sense of humor. When you laugh and have fun, your child’s stress level takes a big drop.
- Say, “We’re playing today.” Instead, say, “You’re playing today.”
- Get too pushy. Having them fulfill their obligations (pre-paid clinics or playing the consolation draw) is different than forcing them to play.
- Turn away when the child behaves in an un-sportsmanlike manner on the court.
- Tell the child what he or she did wrong right after a tough match. The last thing they want is your criticism immediately off the court. Be a source of strength to them not someone they wish to avoid.
- Ask the child to talk with you immediately after a loss.
- Make enemies with your child’s opponents parents during a match.
- Act negatively or angrily (verbal or non-verbal) on the sidelines unless your child’s acting in an unsportsmanlike manner.
- Your child is watching more than you think. Their winning or losing cannot determine your approval of them.
- Make your life your child’s tennis.
- Make your child feel guilty for all the time, money, and sacrifices you’re making for his or her tennis.
- Think of your child’s tennis as an investment for which you expect a return.
- Live out your own dreams through your child’s tennis.
- Try to take the coach’s job away. Be the parent.
- Compare your child’s progress with that of other children, especially siblings.
- Badger, harass, or use sarcasm to motivate your child. It may work in the short term, but they will rebel to your threats or mistreatment.
- Threaten or use fear to improve your child’s tennis discipline.
I hope you will use these suggestions for the betterment of your children. We were blessed with parents that used these principles to assist and nurture our tennis games and lives. Be the type of tennis parent your children deserve.