Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Do’s and don’ts of parental involvement in tennis

Katelyn Caniford | Towpath Tennis Pro

Parents can be the most supportive and influential people in our lives. They raise us, care for us, and teach us everything they know. Not only are they crucial in teaching us right from wrong, but they’re probably the ones endorsing their child’s tennis game--mind, body and soul. Whether or not they’re players themselves or are learning the game, having your parents come watch your tennis matches or lessons can sometimes be a blessing. However, it can also be a huge headache if they don’t respect their boundaries. So to avoid the headache, here are some do’s and don’ts on how parents should handle themselves when it comes to their children’s tennis game.

Private Lessons
  •  Don’t disrupt - The whole purpose of private lessons is to let your child learn from a trained professional. An ideal parent will watch their child’s lesson in leisure. A disruptive parent will interrupt the lesson by criticizing either the student or pro, or trying to coach their child themselves. The biggest thing to remember here is to let the pro do their job. If you have something to add, try discussing it with the child or pro before or after the lesson in a constructive and positive manner.
  •   Do encourage - The best thing you can do to help your child perform to the best of their abilities is to encourage them. Compliment them on what they are doing right and let the pro focus on what needs work. This way, your child has more confidence and will feel completely at ease during their lessons.

 Group Lessons/Clinics
  • Don’t disrupt - Sound similar? Clinics should be handled very similarly to private lessons. Again, what is most important is that as a parent, you don't interrupt what is happening on the court, especially when there are other kids in the lesson! If you are constantly trying to tell your kid what you think about their game then not only does it distract and upset them, but it is distracting to everyone on the court and makes everyone uncomfortable.
  • Do distance yourself - If there’s a balcony or designated viewing area, try watching from there away from the lesson. Maybe even bring a magazine or a book to help pass the time. This allows your child to learn at ease with the rest of his peers.
  • Do use constructive criticism - If you have something you want to say to your child, wait till after the clinic is over to discuss it with them. Tell them your thoughts in a positive and helpful manner. The same goes for the clinic itself. If you have any comments or thoughts that you would like to discuss with a pro, try calling or sending them an email if you don’t get a chance to talk to them in private after the class is over.

  •   Do provide guidance - Tournaments are a great opportunity for your kids to finally put all of their hard work to the test! If you’re attending a tournament for the first time, here’s a couple things to keep in mind. First, explain to your child what to expect. How many times are they expected to play (is there a consolation round, single elimination or is it a round robin?), are there particular rules (are they playing a 3rd set tiebreak in lieu of a set, or playing a standard pro-set up to 8?), will there be an official around and how do you use them in your favor? Second, help your child learn how to properly check in at the tournament desk. Going to their first match can sometimes be intimidating, so help ease that anxiety by walking them inside and checking in with them. After that, wait for their match to be called and offer words of encouragement and luck before they go on. After a few tournaments, your child will learn the routine and might prefer to check in on their own.
  • Do ask for an official - If there are any match discrepancies that require an official, try to remain calm and make a request at the tournament desk so that they can make sure someone is available to come solve the issue. Most tournaments will have officials out there to handle any problems. For those that don’t have one, you can ask the tournament desk for their help, otherwise you will have to sit back and let the kids solve the problem on their own.
  •   Do relax and have fun! -  Tournaments can make kids feel the pressure, and as a parent the easiest way to handle that is to not show them how you’re feeling. Sit up in the stands, watch their match, and even clap for them when they do well.

High School Tennis
  •  Do build independence - Parents tend to be very involved in their child’s high school teams. Whether that means bringing the snacks, driving kids to matches or practice, or just being a part of the cheering squad, it’s easy to get wrapped up in their lives. By all means come to the matches and cheer them on, but try to avoid coming to practices while watching their every move. It will be very difficult for your child to get acclimated to the team environment if their parent is constantly around. If you plan to stay throughout the practice, try sitting in the car and finding something to do while they practice. Let them figure out how to handle life on the team on their own.
  • Do trust the coach – Most of the time, these coaches are taking on the job of a high school season primarily for their interest and love in the sport. Trust them to handle any discrepancies that might be within the team or during a match. This is also a great time for your child to communicate to your coach of any issues they might need help resolving. If you must, email or talk with the coach before or after a practice/match just to give them a ‘heads up’ on something you’d like them to address.

 Tennis is one of those sports that provides kids and adults alike with incredibly beneficial life lessons. While your child is learning to figure out the ropes and critique their own game in a conducive manner, parents are learning how to be supportive while giving their child the independence they need for later on in life. So whether they are playing in a lesson or match, continually let your child know how proud you are of their effort and progress no matter the outcome, because at the end of the day—it’s just a game!

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  1. Great article! Every tennis parent should read and implement these suggestions. Thank you!

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  3. Yes I completely agreed with the fact that; parents can be the most supportive and influential people in our lives. Therefore before start anything we blessed from the support and guidance; here also in this article we can get some crucial facts about how to play tennis and the most important part of this article is that we need parental support. I would like to follow some of the crucial tips from here regarding playing tennis; hope it works better.
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