LET THE KIDS PLAY – A message to all tennis parents!

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I have just spent 3 days at tournaments, watching many a terrible live broadcast of parents behaving badly!

I’ve seen:

  • Bullying (Both their own kids and their opponents)
  • The terrible line calls – From parents on the sidelines (I’m sorry but you don’t have eagle eyes to see the far sideline from your chair)
  • Outcome focus chats with kids ( If you will do this, it will be good for your UTR! If you just hit the ball to their forehand you would’ve won – clueless also)
  • Talking tactics to kids whilst they are playing (many wrong tactics too)
  • Arguing with other parents
  • Re-inforcing poor behavior on the court from their child (Throwing racquets, poor body language, cheating and poor sportmanship)
  • Sideline Coaching

And this was at an under 10’s and 12’s event!!!!

I can’t tell you all how disappointing it is to see a small majority of parents behaving like this. They are stealing the enjoyment and learning opportunities from their kids. Sport is meant to teach you about playing fair, competing, problem-solving and confidence building. I saw kids destroyed from a single match of tennis! That’s not what tennis is about. Tennis is building resilience, maturity and life skills. Some days we lose, some days we win, but our attitude and approach must be similar.

This is a platform to build friendships, offer congratulation or commiseration, learn to compete with sportsmanship and learn to be a good human.

So this is a notice to the parents –

Firstly, don’t try and be the coach. That’s why you pay coaches.

Don’t judge your kids performance against someone else – everyone develops differently. Different games match up differently.

Kids are human too – they make mistakes, have bad days and yes lose matches “they should never lose”. It is all part of the process. If winning was easy to do every time – no one would do it.

When you’re a professional you lose every week – kids need to know it’s ok to lose and to do it with dignity, sportsmanship and with their pride in tact. They also, need to be good winners – because some weeks you win and there is glory in it, but not in rubbing it in others’ faces – or picking on those who don’t perform.

Let kids problem-solve out there – if you tell them how to do everything, they will never learn to do things for themselves. Then will in turn never develop confidence and will not develop independence. All important attributes to becoming an adult and elite athlete.

They aren’t playing for money, their career or to support a family – so don’t make them feel like every win or loss has weight to it. They will play 1000’s of matches in the future and need you to avoid building a roller coaster of emotions.

So, please…

Let them play. Let them learn, develop and grow as players and humans first. Do the opposite… and they will resent the sport and quit early.

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