Extreme tennis parenting
Thoughts of Damir Dokic, Jim Pierce through to John Tomic are not positive role models for the world of tennis. Would those kids have made it to that level without the extreme pushing from their parents?
At a grassroots level, I have seen dozens of different style of parents. From one extreme of dropping them off, never watching them and picking them up through to parents who will follow every single shot of the match, riding their child’s match with anxiety ridden support.
The best, like so many things, is in the middle of these extremes. It is really important that a parent pays attention to their child’s tennis, watching their matches (or at least some of them) and asking them about their tennis. But the other extreme is well documented and once a parent goes that one step too far from parent to coach, the relationship becomes tricky for the player, the players coaching team and other players. These parents nearly always are high achievers and simply want the best for their children. Fundamentally there is nothing wrong with that and the ambition and drive is fantastic. The trick is to cultivate the ambition in the child, ask them question (never tell them) and build their independence so they solve their own on court challenges.
The dangers of lacking interest in your child’s tennis
- Your child doesn’t feel like your interested in their passions/activities.
- Your child doesn’t get the opportunity to share what are they are learning from you.
- Your child doesn’t get the support from you and praise for their efforts in the sport.
The dangers of being too involved in your child’s tennis
- Your child will become more anxious on the tennis court which does huge damage to their game.
- Your child will be embarrassed by their parents being overly involved.
- Your child doesn’t build their independence as they do not need to solve their own problems.
So at the end of the day as parents we just do the best we can do and want the best for our kids. It can be helpful to think about where in the spectrum you can see is the best place for your tennis child.
Rick Willsmore – Scarborough Tennis Academy