Q. I am a parent of a talented Junior player. I see how involved some other parents become in the child’s tennis and the amount of pressure they place on their kids. Are there any things I should think about or do to keep from putting my kids under too much pressure?
A. Great question and the timing is perfect as the USTA recently funded research to address parental issues in tennis. Highlighted below are some findings that relate most directly to your question.
Coaches who were interviewed and surveyed as part of this research felt that parents should provide an optimal push. An “optimal push means that at times a parent needs to motivate a player because he or she is being lazy or is not doing what is needed to be successful, while at the same time not pressuring or inappropriately making the child do things against their well-being.” It is further suggested that an optimal push involves reinforcing preparation and hard work, making the child responsible and live up to the tennis commitment and pushing core values.
Coaches were also asked to identify behaviors of junior tennis parents that are most important for athlete success. The top 5 behaviors included:
1. Providing unconditional support for the child.
2. Modeling good sportsmanship.
3. Recognizing the importance of long-term goals.
4. Respecting other parents, coaches and players.
5. Communicating tennis concerns directly and privately to the coach.