Be honest and put your hand up if you answer “YES” to two or more questions in the Tennis Parents Ten Question Quiz:
- Do you believe your child will be a successful, well paid professional tennis player?
- Do you tell other parents that your child is “a high achiever”?
- Do you talk about tennis at least once a day with your child over meals or away from the court?
- Are you prepared to sacrifice your child’s education so they have a great chance of becoming a professional player?
- Do you regularly ask the coach to work your child harder or to change something about their game?
- Do you get emotionally involved in your child’s successes and failures on the training court?
- Do you allow your child to show a bad attitude, poor sportsmanship and / or a poor temperament (e.g. racket abuse)?
- Have you ever argued or fought with parents of other kids about the results of a game?
- Do you refer to your child as “my son or my daughter the tennis player”?
- Have you spent more than $500.00 on a single tennis racket for your child?
Well, here’s the bad news. If you answered “YES” to two or more of the above, the chances of your child becoming a successful professional tennis player are…NIL or very close to it. And what’s worse – you may be the major cause of their failure.
Tennis is a tough sport.
To make it to the top means years of hard work, dedication, commitment, training and skills development. It also takes a total commitment from the player, their coach and the player’s family to become a successful, professional player. None of this is news to you of course.
However what may be news is that the more you want your child to be successful, the more you drive them, the more you obsess over their training, the more you talk about their game and focus on their career, the less likely they are to be successful.
Hold it right there you say! I know that at this point, the majority of tennis parents are thinking, “I’m not pushy. I’m just supporting my child to achieve their dreams. I am not one of those parents this article is referring to”.
Wrong – you are!
It is next to impossible for you to be objective about your child’s sporting talent and your own behaviour relating to it.
The percentage of players who make it to the top is very small.
The percentage of players who make it to the top after being outstanding talents and tournament winners at 12 is next to zero.
The percentage of players who make it to the top after being outstanding talents and tournament winners at 12 and whose parents are obsessed with them getting there is less than zero.
So how can you be an outstanding tennis parent?
Sit down with your child’s coach. Ask them for honest, hard hitting, direct feedback on the job you are doing as a tennis parent. In the same way that your child seeks and receives honest feedback on their backhand, serve, volley etc – you too need honest, direct, regular feedback to improve your tennis parenting skills. And…..be prepared to listen to it and act upon it.
Now, let’s look at things from a Positive Parenting Perspective.
Can you answer “Yes” to two or more of these questions about the future?
- Can you give your child unconditional love, support and encouragement regardless of their on court performances?
- Do you believe that the most important skills for your child to develop are confidence, self belief, honesty, integrity and humility?
- Do you believe you should give your child a day or two off each week just to relax and enjoy being a kid?
- Can you promise not to discuss tennis away from the court?
- Can you encourage your child to develop skills in other sports and activities and to continue their education?
- Can you provide your child with a loving, caring, supportive, stable family environment?
- Can you stay away from the training court for a few days without getting anxious?
- Can you give your child’s coach total and unconditional support – particularly when your child hits a rough patch or form slump?
- If your child does not make it as a professional player, will you still love them, care for them, support them, nurture them and be there for them unconditionally?
- Can you show dignity, maturity and decency when your child is defeated in a tournament?
- Score 2-3: can I suggest another sport?
- Score 4-6: a good chance of developing a well rounded, confident, balanced child.
- Score 7-10: congratulations – you are an outstanding tennis parent and you have all the skills you need to help your child become the best they can be – in life, in sport, at school, in the family…..and maybe even tennis.
Being a tennis parent is a tough job. And like all tough jobs, you need good training and lots of education to do it well.
Thanks Wayne Goldsmith