WHAT SHOULD I WORK ON WITH MY KID BETWEEN LESSONS!
Ok so you have have enthusiastic parent! Great! But he wants to “work” on things? Hmmm maybe not so great! But the kid gets to practice and they are committed! Great or not?
It’s a dilemna most of us have faced and of course there is no perfect answer but here are a few things to consider!
First this parent has some enthusiasm and energy! Use it! Most challenges with parents start when the parent is unsure of their role and so steps into the coaches role. Help the parent to find clear and constructive contributions, for some of them this is a very new space and they need to know what they can do. They don’t need a coach that just says leave the coaching to me, leaving them unsure about where they fit!
Unless you are a coach (and even if you are, think twice) don’t coach your kid unless they ask! The first key mission is to get your kid to fall in love with tennis, so PLAY with them, have fun, laugh and smile, let them see this is something you can do together and enhances your relationship.
Let your kid lead the practice. If you want to play and practice with the child, let them lead. They will need to become an independent person in tennis and in life so give them the roll of bossing the practice, on some days you can feed balls for what they want to do and if they ask you can make a comment but just becareful you keep your parent hat on and don’t switch it for a coach hat. If you want to drive a little harded the parent can privately ask the coach to give the kid some things to practice, but even then let the kid drive this. “Dad I want to practice my backhand!” is way more powerful than “Coach said we have to practice your backhand!”
If you see something that you feel needs working on communicate this with the coach (privately – email, phone etc but not so your child can hear). The challenge with teaching a very young player is that they often don’t get that it’s a process so when they try hard and are not immediately successful that can boil over in your direction. With learning and challenge comes some risk of failure and while we all want kids to learn to deal with this it’s better if the parent is seen as a supporter rather than an instigator.
The parent is for life. If a child doesn’t click with their coach then the parent can decide to move on but you get one crack at this parenting job so try to avoid crossing the line into roles that other can do for you. Parents have a hundred jobs to do (taxi, laundry, chef and crucuially emotional support to their child) so creating a safe space where your child knows that they can always talk to you as a parent is crucial.
Focus on behaviors. The one thing we encourage the whole team to get on board with is behaviors because this transcends the court. Don’t judge your child’s match performance based on the result instead reward them for being respectful, giving their best effort, trying new things and dealing with adversity. If they do these things they will ultimately be successful on and off the court so set these as home rules in everything with your parent hat on.
Write a job spec. Ok so this parent is still pushing. Take a sheet of parent and make two columns. Ask the parent to write all the jobs they need to do for their child and the other all the ones they expect the coach to do. Sit down and agree. Then draw a think line down the center of the page and agree not to cross the line!!
Every parent wants the best for their child and it’s great that they want to get on the court and help their child but the parent role is the most important, and sometimes fragile, one. Fostering a love of the game, bonding over this love and providing a framework of support and behaviors is something that every parent can give their child, With this in place the child will make progress because they approach every session with excitement, keen to improve.
Join the Conversation at the It’s My Game Conference May 20th – 23rd 2021. Register now at www.itsmygame.net.