When my son first started to play tennis I was called out by a young 11-year-old tennis player for “coaching” my son. Apparently I was not fully aware what was and what was not allowed to be said during a tennis match. In the eyes of this 11-year-old telling my son to smile and get back out there was “coaching.” I decided it was time for me to truly understand what I could and could not say to stay within the rules of the game. I must admit, whether he was right or wrong, I was impressed with the confidence this kid had to stand up for himself.
So what are you allowed to say during a tennis match. If you ask my tennis playing children they will say “nothing, stay quiet and watch,” but you are actually allowed to make some comments. Whatever you say cannot be deemed as coaching in any way. Therefore statements such as “move your feet, get your head in the game, focus, stay down, that was the shot,” are not allowed since they can be considered to be coaching.
If you must say something try something like “come on, good shot, nice point, let’s go!” A simple pump of the fist or applause after the point is completely acceptable as well. If you noticed the list of what you can say seems rather short you are correct. Very little is to be said because most things can be used as a que to the player of how to change the course of the match.
Don’t forget that hand signals are considered a form of communication as well and the officials will be watching you.
As the crazy tennis mom I suggest you take a few moments to talk to your child about what they like to hear from you during their match. My children prefer I say nothing and find that even my words of encouragement such as good shot are a distraction to them during their match. I had a hard time understanding this in the beginning but once they explained it to me it made perfect sense. If I am commenting on the quality of their game they begin to worry about what I am thinking rather than focusing solely on their game. Children are always trying to please us and being distracted by whether or not their parents are happy with the quality of their game is an unwelcome distraction. I realize some kids get pumped up by their parents reactions, mine do not. All I’m saying is talk to your children and see what they want you to do, after all in the end it’s all about the kids.
If you liked this you may be interested in reading The Art of Being Quiet During A Tennis Match.