Michael Llodra is being fined $2,500 by the ATP tour for verbal abuse during a match in the BNP Paribas Open. Apparently he was heard making racial comments to fans as well as being verbally abusive toward the ball-kids. U.S Open, 2011, Serena Williams is fined $2,000 for verbally abusing a lines person. March 11, 2012 another junior tennis player is heard verbally abusing his opponent. Why should we be surprised?
How many times have you watched Andy Roddick play in a big match where he has NOT been yelling at the official? It is obvious that as a parent we can not allow the professional tennis players to be the example of how you should behave on the court. It is our job as parents and coaches to assure our kids do not only develop the proper strokes to play tennis but the proper behavior to go along with the game.
The most important factor in determining how a child will behave on the court is how their coach and parents behave when they play. So first and foremost, make sure you are being a good role model for proper court manners. The second most important factor will be how you or the coach responds when they misbehave on the court.
What should you to do when your junior tennis player starts to act up on the court? Simple, remove their butt from the court. I don’t care if they are winning or losing, if my child is acting disrespectfully to his opponent, or himself, he/she is getting off the court. I’m not talking about a little emotion on the court that all players get. I’m talking about the obvious disrespect and negative behavior that we have all witnessed. It is one of the hardest things you will ever have to do, but you only ever have to do it once. After that the look and finger point will let them know what is coming if they don’t get it together.
I will say it one more time, tennis is about the life lessons we learn. Verbally abusing another person, of yourself is never an acceptable behavior. The action must have an appropriate consequence so they can learn the lesson.
As adults, I beg you to monitor your own behavior on the court and remember a young impressionable person may be watching you and looking to you as a role model. What are you modeling?