As parents, we can have a positive or negative influence on our children’s development in sport fields.
Very often we think we are doing the right thing and we don’t realize that we are taking up too much space and forgetting our children’s needs.
No need to feel guilty, no matter what we do we will make mistakes but it is useful to have the advice to try to do our best.
Using my experience as a tennis instructor and tennis player, I give you my advice to help you find the right attitude as a parent if your child plays tennis.
These tips are also applicable outside of tennis because behavior on a tennis court reflects a general attitude.
Many of the tips can also be useful for all players, even those who don’t have a child!
The conscious or unconscious influence of parents on children
As parents, we educate our children based on the education we have received, on the information we have learned (on the Internet, in books, on television, etc.), and on our personal beliefs.
It is important to keep in mind that every attitude we have, conscious or unconscious, is absorbed by our children to help them form a vision of the world and themselves.
Everything we do influences them, we are their role model and this is an important responsibility.
It’s important to know that you have to feel good about yourself to be positive with your children.
Disappointment with ourselves or low self-esteem can be expressed and passed on to our children.
For example, children may feel stupid not because they have been told they are but because they have heard their parents say so themselves.
There’s no need to put pressure on ourselves, doubt, or feel guilty, we can’t be perfect despite our best efforts, but it’s just important to be aware of the constant influence we have on our children as parents.
The more we become aware of our behaviors, of their underlying reason, the more we become able to modify them and choose what we want to pass on to our children in a positive way.
Teach your child to have a good competitive mindset.+
Our role as parents, as well as coaches, is to instill the positive values of competition in children:
- respect for the competitor,
- Value efforts before results,
- learn from one’s mistakes and defeats,
- competition must be a pleasure, a game (the number one motivation for children to do a sport is to have fun),
- the opponent is not an enemy, he is there to help us progress,
- Losing is not a shame,
- you don’t cheat to win,
- Competition helps to know oneself better and to progress as a person and it is something that can be used in all areas of life.
Enjoy the effort and fun of the game
Teach your child that the most important thing is not to win but to do your best and be creative on the court.
Children should have fun, they should try to play the tennis they like most, without fear of defeat.
Tennis should be synonymous with fun for him, even if it takes effort to have fun playing.
He must also learn that if he wants something, he must make an effort to get it, it will serve him in all areas.
Your child will be all the more relaxed in his tennis practice as he will feel that his results are not what is most important to you.
If you don’t have high expectations in terms of results but just want him to have fun, the training sessions and matches will go better in your presence.
Choose the right equipment
Most tennis clubs and tennis stores lend racquets. no need to ruin yourself when you start! We choose an entry-level racquet like the Wison Clash 100. And above all, lighter and more manageable, which allows a better understanding of the techniques to be assimilated.
Don’t blame your child for his results.
Sometimes parents invest a lot of time and money in their child’s tennis practice, in lessons, clinics, and competitions.
The child should not feel indebted for something, he should not feel guilty for not having good results.
The parents’ financial investment should not lead them to over-invest in the child’s tennis practice by having too many expectations of results or by interfering with the coaches.
Let your child play tennis for himself
Your child should be the one who wants to play and he should be able to decide to stop whenever he wants without anyone getting in the way.
He should play only for himself, not for his parents or the coach.
This is how I learned tennis and it has allowed me to progress with a lot of fun and without any pressure.
Don’t seek your success through your child’s success.
Also, don’t fall into the comparison with other parents through your child’s results.
Your sense of self-worth as a person and as a parent should not depend on your child’s results.
The child is not there to enable parents to achieve their dreams through him or her, a problem that is seen quite frequently in a more or less conscious way.
This is the phenomenon of projection: we project our desires onto our child, ultimately without taking into account his or her own wishes.
This is the case of parents who are disappointed at not having been good players and who want to fulfill themselves through their child, who hasn’t asked anything of anyone…
Make your kids feel that your love is unconditional.
Above all, your child must feel that your love for him or her is unconditional and above all not linked to the quality of his or her results in tennis or elsewhere.
Regularly tell him that you love him is essential, regardless of his age.
Some parents don’t do this because they have difficulty expressing their feelings.
It’s worth working on yourself to make it happen.
Congratulate your child properly
Congratulating children is essential for their confidence. Praise your child for their efforts or for little things they manage to accomplish.
Don’t overdo it by over-congratulating children for anything and everything.
Children aren’t idiots and they can sense when praise is undeserved or exaggerated.
Over complimenting would produce the opposite excess and ultimately make the child doubt.
Praise them when they deserve it but with an intensity proportional to what they have accomplished.
Do not interrupt training and games
Do not give advice to your child during workouts
Parents who intervene during the training sessions embarrass their child, the teacher, and sometimes the whole group.
The presence of the parents is often enough to influence the children’s behavior and to embarrass the coach who will feel less serene when doing his session.
It is often healthier to leave the child alone during his training, which helps him to feel free and independent.
You can follow your child’s workouts if you don’t interfere and if your child doesn’t mind.
Do not give technical or tactical advice during games
A competitive match should be a way for the child to develop his or her autonomy and self-confidence.
If he is constantly helped during his match, he will not learn to find solutions to the problems he encounters alone, which are within his reach during a tennis match.
Do not involve yourself in the arbitration process during the games
Similarly, do not intervene in the arbitration or judgment of good or foul balls.
Children must be able to arbitrate on their own.
You can intervene on their request when they can’t remember a point in the rules.
Ideally, a competition official should intervene.
Do not show excessive, negative, or positive emotions
Before, during, and after games or practices, control your emotions, whether negative or positive.
Your child “absorbs” your emotions.
If you make your child feel scared before games, your child will think that you need to be afraid before a game.
If you show impatience or excitement before his games, this will also generate stress.
If you show frustration, intense joy, or any other excessive emotion during games, it will embarrass your child and interfere with his or her own feelings.
If you show disappointment after one of his defeats, your child will think it’s a big deal to lose.
At all times, remain calm and measured in your reactions, this is very important to develop your child’s emotional balance.
If it is too complicated for you to follow your child’s games without experiencing a lot of emotions, it may be better to let your child play alone and not watch him.
Don’t compare your child to others
Avoid comparing your child to others in terms of results, whether they are better or worse.
Your child needs to develop self-confidence based on his efforts and he needs to learn to play for himself.
Don’t tolerate bad behavior
A child needs freedom, but he also needs limits, otherwise, he will feel anxiety and sometimes adopt increasingly excessive behavior.
Once again, it’s a question of the right balance…
My experience shows me that there is often a lack of discipline in children, a lack of obedience.
Imposing limits on children and making them respect them is not going to make them suffer as some parents seem to think.
The child is not going to like his parents any less if they impose rules on him.
On the contrary, it will help improve parent-child relationships.
Don’t tolerate your child throwing his racquet, insulting the opponent or insulting himself, or systematically shouting on the court.
If he behaves in this manner, call him to order firmly and if he continues I consider it necessary that he get off the court.
There are limits to be respected.
If you ask him to leave the court, there is no need to shame him in front of everyone, the explanations will take place calmly in private.
Apologize to the opponent and his parents.
This will also help him/her understand that he/she did not behave appropriately.
You can also ask the referee to intervene on your behalf to remind him of the rules and the code of good conduct.
The formal and outside intervention will have a different impact than that of the parents.
Don’t make excuses for your child
Competition must be a way to know oneself, to find one’s limits and the means to surpass them in order to progress.
It is not a favor to someone to find excuses for their failures.
Do not blame the coach
The child needs to trust the coach to be motivated and progress.
By criticizing the coach, you would be putting your child in an uncomfortable position.
If you feel that the coach is not suitable, change coaches or clubs.
Your child needs to feel that you have complete confidence in the coach who is following him or her.
Don’t overtrain your child
To progress in tennis, you need quantity but above all quality.
No need to overload the child with endless training sessions, even if he asks for it.
You must respect the child’s growth and avoid injuries like tennis elbow.
We do not train without injury and we must listen to the advice of the doctors when they advise rest.
Don’t make your child play when he doesn’t want to
Tennis should remain a pleasure, at all levels.
Young children should not be forced to play.
However, it is sometimes useful to re-motivate children, to encourage them to move.
To know if you are on the right track, once on the court, they should play with pleasure and show motivation spontaneously. Being on the court shouldn’t be a chore.
Let your child express himself
Communicate with your child and let them express their emotions freely.
To facilitate good communication :
- Have quiet moments where communication can take place (dedicated moments, meals, …).
- Be open to talk about any type of emotion (anger, frustration, fear, …).
- solve problems together, let them take part in the search for solutions to their problems.
- Remind them of the importance of honesty by encouraging them to tell the truth. Healthy communication cannot be established when someone is trying to hide things.
Encourage your child to play different sports
Studies show that many tennis champions didn’t start their careers wanting to be champions, nor did their parents have that goal for them either.
They tried several sports, they turned to tennis because it was the right sport for them and they were encouraged to play for fun and development.
Serious goals come with time, no need to rush things.
Don’t try to control everything
Parents sometimes want too much control and supervision over what their child does.
Paradoxically, it is not by trying to control everything that you get what you want.
Give your child the freedom to play tennis.
Set a good example
Being a parent doesn’t leave any respite!
If you also play tennis and your child watches you play, set a good example for them:
- be competitive, respect your opponents, be fair play.
- show that you are doing your best
- don’t over-emphasize the results of your matches
- have fun above all
That’s great because if you’re used to having a bad attitude on the court, your child can help you improve by encouraging you to set a good example!
Don’t stop your child from dreaming
Adults tend to project their doubts onto the children; if they feel unable to do something, they think it will be the same for their children.
Don’t discourage a child who dreams of being a good tennis player by saying :
it’s for those who have talent
it’s too late
you should already be better
it’s too difficult
That doesn’t mean we should let him think that it’s easy and that he can drop out of school.
You have to tell him to do his best, and we’ll see…
No one can say that a child will be professional, even if he is very gifted, there are many things that are beyond our expectations.
I knew a player who was 5/6 at 18 years old who was told by a technical advisor that he would never make it in tennis.
In the end, that player was -30 and ranked on the ATP.
It’s about believing in yourself, in your abilities, and in your dreams.