“Practice makes perfect.”
We’ve all heard the expression, except perhaps former Sixers basketball star Allen Iverson. For developing basketball players who don’t have the skill to cross up Michael Jordan or drop 41 points on Kobe Bryant, practice is an important part training and a great way to develop and improve new abilities. The same holds true for tennis.
Regardless of the sport, practice is hardly the only thing that influences on-court performance. Attitude is also key, and this is an area where parents can help.
Here are five great ways parents can help young Hong Kong tennis players develop into better players.
Tennis is an intense game.
It can be nerve-wracking enough watching other people’s kids play a competitive game of tennis – this is magnified greatly when our own children take the court. The urge to yell and scream in support (or opposition) to a particular event can be palpable, but these types of outbursts should be tempered, as they can be distracting to your child.
Instead of screaming from the stands, consider celebrating with your child after the match when things are calmer.
TEMPER EXPECTATIONS AND STAY REALISTIC
It is natural to have confidence in our children and to want to tell them we believe in them, but it is also important to temper expectations and avoid setting the bar too high.
Instead of telling your child that they will win, consider reminding them of all the skills they have developed in their tennis program. That way, they can build up confidence without the fear of disappointing should they fail.
Coaching can be a delicate balancing act, and parenting is the same, only much, much more important.
On one hand, we want to instill a strong work ethic and sense of confidence in young Hong Kong tennis players, but at the same time, we don’t want to break their spirit. One great way to accomplish this is through positive reinforcement. Instead of berating a child following a defeat, consider discussing positive steps that can be taken to rectify the situation next matches, such as working on their backhand or reflex times.
SET A GOOD SPORTSMANSHIP EXAMPLE
This one is self-explanatory, but important. Kids are taught by example. When they see trusted adults berating coaches and players from the stands, swearing, cheating or doing other inadvisable activities, young tennis players soak up their poor attitude like a sponge.
As a parenting, watching your child fall victim to a cheating opponent or poor officiating can be frustrating. We have parental urges that make us want to protect our young, but causing a scene is sure to make things worse. Instead of inserting ourselves into the action, a better course of action is to politely talk to coaches, officials or other parents when there is a break in play.
MAKE SURE TO KEEP THINGS FUN
At the end of the day, fun is the primary objective of youth tennis in Hong Kong, and across the globe.
Unless your child is Roger Federer or Caroline Wozniacki, the primary objective of tennis for children should always be enjoyment.
As parents, instilling discipline and dedication in children is great, but if we cross the line and become overbearing or unreasonably strict, this can sap the enjoyment out of tennis for your child and his or her on-court results will likely suffer.
Keep tennis fun and they will continue to get better.
To learn more about our Junior Tennis Programme, please click here