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Ed Sheeran’s Dad

Ed Sheeran is one of the most successful and talented singer / song writers on the planet right now.  Like many

Ed Sheeran - Beach Break Live 2011

talented people, during Ed’s formative years a parent was a driving force behind his development – in this case his father.  This is also common in our sport where Richard Williams, John Tomic, Judy Murray et al… were central to their children’s progress.  What is interesting is how Ed talks about his father’s role.

Ed’s “dad wasn’t musical,” he didn’t have any industry knowledge or any inside contacts.  What’s more he didn’t try to become an expert, or push Ed to the best teachers and schools in the country.  Ed’s Dad took his son to see the ‘greats’ like MacCartney and Clapton at least once a month.  Ed Sheeran describes “watching live as the most inspiring experience a kid could have,” if fact Ed says the word inspiring a lot when he talks about how his Dad nurtured his talent.

The sacrifice to give his son inspiring experiences and opportunities [that may not have interested him] is the type of parent behaviour we need to encourage.  “I wasn’t that great as a kid,” admits Sheeran, “but Dad saw if he encouraged it enough it could blossom.”    There is no guarantee of fame and fortune, but a child who is given the chance to immerse themselves in a passion without being pushed to act like an adult is most often a happy [and successful] one.

What can we learn from this example of developing a young person’s talent.

  1. While the pro tennis circuit only rolls around once a year – but make sure you get there.
  2. While chances to see the pros live are rare, the chance to see the best local players should not be missed either. This can include the best young players in your program – kids will often learn a great deal if they are given the opportunity to watch, play with and imitate bigger kids.  The truth is the model of skilled 12 year old may be a better one for a 9 year old than an adult professional.
  3. Can your tennis coaching include a program where kids and parents get the chance to play together, kids are very interested in the adult world and will be ‘inspired’ if their parents have an interest in tennis.
  4. Communicate with the parents in your program – let them know about great parent influences like Ed Sheeran’s Dad. Parents haven’t had any training into “How to be a Tennis Parent” and are probably fumbling around to find the best way to foster their child’s interests.  They will most likely appreciate any guidance you can give them.


conferenceRufus Keown is a member of the e9 Professional Development Team

He is Director of the Victorian Tennis Academy, in Melbourne Australia and a Course Facilitator for Tennis Australia.

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