Getting it wrong…
Tears streamed down Christopher’s face, ‘Mum I didn’t win a trophy!” he managed to explain. Earlier that day a mother had demanded to see the coaches score sheet – she had been keeping score and was adamant her 8 year old child and his partner should have won the runners up TROPHY!!! Oh dear, I had got it terribly wrong.
The tournament had attracted almost 120 competitors, players and friends from our R – O – G program. The weather was fantastic and I had spent all week promoting and planning, I was exhausted but satisfied and looking forwards to a great day. The red event was a great success with several players competing in their first event. Awards were given to players based on:-
- Federer Sportsmanship
- Nadal Determination
- Tomic Tactics
- Serena Serve
- Stosur Aggressiveness
- Djokovic Movement
While scores were kept they were not made public or winners announced.
Then the trouble started – players at the orange and green where playing well and most importantly most were sticking to our good sport messages of applauding the good play of our opponents, calling lines fairly and shaking hands with all players at the end of the match. There were some close lines calls and score disputes, but this is the child’s world and this can occur. Once the finals approached and the TROPHIES were on the line the irrational parent behavior set in.
Where had I gone wrong!
On reflection I had missed a golden chance to educate the parents on the goals of our program. There were dozens of parents at the event, but I was on court with the kids and only spoke to parents after the event (by which time the problems had started). www.evolve9.com has a section dedicated to Parents in our premium membership to help you turn them into great supporters of your program. Start with this great free article Help me…I’m a tennis parent! Don’t miss the chance to speak with the parents in your program, even if it means time off court.
Secondly I will need to rethink my trophy and awards strategy. Our club has no honour boards and we try our best not to make anyone feel like a hero…or a failure, but these “real plastic gold” trophies have set off a chain reaction. Awarding prizes based on the Sportsmanship and Effort is one solution, but tennis is a competitive sport and learning to deal with winning and losing is something we are trying to teach the kids. Changing the rules for the kids, because of the adults seems a little unfair.
I will need to find a balance for our orange and green players and spend more energy in educating the parents and look positively towards our next event if I dare.