What role should a parent play in their child’s tennis? If your child is a recreational tennis player you can be a great instructor and hitting partner. However, if your child is a competitive junior tennis player your role is better limited to financier and cheerleader. I know I am going to make a few enemies with this statement but please hear me out.
My kids asked me on more than one occasion to please not comment on their practice or match and I had the gull to answer them with “As long as I’m paying, I can say whatever I want.” I am not proud of this statement but I truly believed it, just as many of you do. What we don’t consider is the fact that it is our child’s hard work, determination, pride and self-esteem on the court. Those all have a lot more value than our pocket-book.
So how did the crazy tennis mom come to a sane resolution? I listened to my children and heard what they were saying. What they needed was a mom not another coach. They needed me to support them and hold them up when they were struggling. As my son told me one day “Do you think I don’t know when I suck?”
Am I asking you to keep dishing out the money regardless of what your child is doing on the court? Absolutely not! Set up a list of ground rules and expectations you have for your child. We required a certain amount of off court fitness training, good school grades, good attitude on the court, and parental respect. Notice that in no way did we make the financing based on wins or losses.
Like I said earlier, I am sure I have made plenty of people mad by now, but that is not my intention. My intention is to share some of what I have learned and hope that you don’t make the same mistakes I did. Win or lose they are still our kid and they are worth more than a ranking.
So my advise to you, be your child’s banker and cheerleader, leave the coaching to someone else. Listen to them when they talk and know what it is they want from you because in the end it’s all about the kids.