Parenting High-Performance Tennis Juniors

It can be agonizing watching your kid play a tennis match for one reason or another. Maybe they haven’t figured out their opponent’s weakness as quickly as you have, or perhaps it’s just hard to control your emotions when your kid is on the court fighting for every point. It’s easy to understand why: you love your child, you’re excited, you’re anxious, and winning the match would be a great outcome.

Have you ever asked yourself: how is my behavior affecting my child? Whether it be positively or negatively. Some of the most common behaviors–the good and the bad–seen in tennis parents are as follows:

Positive Parental Behaviours

  • Financial and logistical support (e.g., transportation to and from tennis lessons, tournaments, and clinics)
  • Social-emotional support
  • ¬†Providing tennis opportunities (e.g., setting up practice matches, finding tournaments toplay)
  • Unconditional love and support
  • Holding child accountable for any poor sportsmanship displayed on the court

Negative Parental Behaviours

  • Overemphasizing winning
  • Having unrealistic expectations (e.g., should never lose to a less-skilled player)
  • Criticizing child
  • Coaching their child during lessons and tournaments

More than just winning one match

Many coaches agree that parents are essential for junior tennis success. Even some of the top professional players say their success is due to the positive involvement of their parents throughout their junior tennis career. Maintaining a positive role in your child’s tennis development is way more important than any constructive criticism you can offer. The skills a junior player can learn throughout their tennis development outshine just winning match after match. Tennis instills great athleticism, sportsmanship, and the ability to be mentally tough. These skills will translate further than any tennis academy or tennis lesson.Tennis is a sport; it’s meant to be played, and to play is to have fun. Ask yourself, is your child having fun? Is your child learning? At the end of the day, those should be the goals.

Of course, winning is great. But the losses always teach us something and give us more information to build on, whether it be tennis-related or character development-related. At the end of the day, you might realize that the less stress and pressure you put on something, the easier it is to accomplish. Needless to say, it is necessary to find the balance of working hard and being stress free; however, If you can wrap your head around this concept and the irony of it, you will most likely increase your chances of your child’s success!