How Tennis Parents Undermine their Child’s Progress

Ray Brown 150x150 How Tennis Parents Undermine their Child’s Progress

Ray Brown

Student N in April 18 has an RPI of 410 and was making very good progress monthly. She will clearly get to RPI 70 before graduation next year.

Before the USTA Level 4 in May she gets into a conflict with her parents that was important. However, instead of postponing the discussion until after the Level 4, they wake her up on the Friday night before the tournament at 1am to yell at her. By match time on Saturday N was exhausted.

However, N was resilient and won her first round quickly. Her parents arrive in time for the second round and while they were watching her father said that her opponent was “taking it to her’. However, N won 6-1, 6-0. I have no idea what the father was seeing, but it was not reality. More seriously it reflected a very negative attitude toward N’s performance.

Sunday, N has been pressured by her father, during private conversations, to rush the net for which had no training yet. N played her own game and was up a break quickly, as was her usual style. Then she began rushing the net, engaging in self incrimination and slapping herself, which she had never done before. This is a common way a child will communicate to their parent that they are being an obedient child. She degrades quickly and loses a match, in which from the start, she was completely in control. Next match is against C (C becomes an important baseline for N later in the story). Once again she takes the early lead but reverts back to pleasing her father. She loses the first set but by determination she wins the second. By tie-breaker time she is spent from the parental stress and lack of sleep and loses the set. However, she demonstrated that she was at least even with C when she was under duress from all of her parents demands and recriminations.

After the tennis tournament, the father decides to interfere with her training, yet again, and takes her out of tennis for 8 weeks while C continues on with her training. N is put to running track (800 meters to be exact, which was nearly useless for tennis). C understandably advances while N is sitting on the sidelines at track meets.

N loses two and a half months of the most important summer of her senior year. Note that the summer before a tennis player’s senior year is equivalent to a football players fall semester of their senior year.

N restarts near August 1 and is badly out of tennis shape. But she is resilient and gets back to good shape in 3 weeks.

Enter an outside coach who knows nothing about technology or N’s history. He convinces the parents to change N’s racquet. Then convinces them to let him be her coach in spite of the fact that she was making rapid, unprecedented progress in her present program. She moves to the new coach and then loses two more months and her RPI on 10/24 drops to 509. Now she has lost 4.5 months on bad parental decisions and has also lost ground in the race for good college scholarships.

Had her parents never interfered, she would likely have been a 4-star by April given her rate of improvement before the parents began to meddle with her programs. Now, she will be lucky to reach a three-star in time for college commitment offers to be extended.

During this same time, C stayed the course and made it to three-star with an RPI of 253.

N was a promising player who would have surely made it to a ranked D1 college (only 75 are ranked in D1). As a three-star, her prospects are grim to none for a ranked D1 college. Parental interference took N from being a top prospect to being an also-ran in 4.5 months.

This is a textbook example of how parents can undermine their children’s progress in tennis with the best of intentions; because of their abject lack of knowledge about tennis.

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What Should a Parent Tell Their Child Before They Go on the Tennis Court?

The post was written by Ray Brown, a director of EASI tennis academy.

10 essential things 145x150 What Should a Parent Tell Their Child Before They Go on the Tennis Court?

What should a parent tell their child before they go on the tennis court? Only this: “have fun”. The reason is that a child has a way of misinterpreting almost anything a parent says. For example, if they say “good luck”, the child could think: They do not think I am good enough to win without luck. If the parent says “play your best”, the child can read this as: They think I do not play my best so I had better do something extra to win their approval. This can lead to a rapid series of unforced errors and a quick loss because the child is so stressed about losing their parent’s approval.

Kids can misinterpret anything a parent says to their demise. This is because the child is completely dependent on the parent for they safety, security and well being and so may be constantly on the lookout for any indication that this may be taken away. It is irrational, generally, but kids do not think like adults and so the parent must chose their words carefully if they are to inspire their child to play their best rather than detract from it. “Have fun” is your best, and safest comment as a parent.

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How to Become the Most Positive Person

21 ways to becoming the most positive person you know.

positive person How to Become the Most Positive Person

1. Approach new situations with an open mind – try not to pre-
2. Try everything new at least once, and then probably a few
more times just to make sure.
3. Practice everything until you feel more confident.
4. Be a role model to someone else by making mistakes and
publicly admitting that you did and what you learned.
5. Reflect daily on strengths and challenges.
6. Focus on manifesting positivity.
7. Practice patience.
8. Smile at everyone.
9. Say hello, please, thank you – treat others as you wish to be
10. Care, genuinely care or don’t bother.
11. Challenge yourself in ways you expect your students to be
12. Fearlessly take risks knowing that if you fail, you’ve still learned
and you’re alive to try again.
13. Trust in yourself and the people you work with.
14. Offer to help someone who needs it.
15. Ask questions, often, about everything – then…
16. Seek the answers and listen when they come, because they
may not obviously present themselves
17. Be the change you want to see happen
18. Don’t wait for someone to ask you for help when you see they
need it, offer it.
19. Practice random acts of kindness.
20. Donate to a charity every once in a while.
21. Go to bed with Gratitude.

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The Importance of Effective Communication

As a Coach or Leader, your tone of voice and how you control it, are 2 crucial ways to whether your message has an impact or not.

Coach voice 300x209 The Importance of Effective Communication

There’s a great saying that goes like this: “The more you raise your voice, the less they hear”.

As a coach, If you find yourself constantly having to raise your voice to get your athletes best effort or attention, then you probably need to improve your motivational skills and team culture.

The tone and volume of your voice is an extremely important part of how your messages are perceived and received.

Screaming and shouting might get their attention, but doesn’t mean they will hear or want to listen to you.

Try focus on how you are bringing your message across. If you find you are having to scream or yell at your athletes, then maybe it’s time to make some adjustments to your communication strategies.

It’s no lie that some of the quietest coaches are the best heard, and just for the record, no one likes a coach or leader who has to scream.

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Playing Up, Is It Value?

The post was written by Ray Brown, a director of the EASI Tennis Academy.

Martina Hingis 150x150 Playing Up, Is It Value?

We hear tennis coaches claim that playing up is a good learning experience; but, it is? What one does not learn is technique because improving technique requires hitting thousands of the ”same” ball; this will not happen in any match; nor is conditioning improved because improving conditioning requires weeks to months of hard work which will not happen in a tennis match; on the contrary, tournament match play (not practice matches) places high demands on all parts of the body under duress and will result in extensive soreness of muscles and tendons. Stress soreness is not related to conditioning soreness because stress soreness is due to the release of stress hormones into the blood stream which is very destructive if it continues over ten minutes. Hence stress soreness is completely unrelated to conditioning soreness. So playing tournament matches does not contribute to physical conditioning. Nor is consistency improved which requires thousands of balls to be hit.

Also the human short-term learning dynamic functions very poorly under stress. Instead of learning, the player may actually lose skill as demonstrated by psychology experiments in radical behaviorism. Even as bad is that the player may lose confidence in their ability. This is because young people make very odd self-effacing interpretations of failure that will damage their confidence unnecessarily and erroneously.

So far, everything mentioned applies to any tournament match. The real value of playing a tennis match is developing the discipline to perform under pressure; adapt to changing circumstances; learning how the opponent thinks; recognizing when an opponent is submitting, etc, the list is long but excludes the factors discussed at the outset of this article. Skill and physical development do not occur during a match just as one does not learn calculus from taking a calculus test. Matches can expose areas of weakness which can be addressed during training. This includes technical, mental or physical. But, those weaknesses can be obscured by a lack of preparation and hence they become almost impossible to address during training.

Since most tennis matches are lost due to unforced errors, the mental discipline development is likely the most important value of a tournament match. However, playing up, as Robert Lansdorp notes, reduces pressure and thus obscures the mental issues, the one thing that is the most important value of tournament play.

In short, playing up is almost worthless UNLESS the tennis player is the best in their age group and is ready to advance to a higher age group. So long as the player is not the best in their group in the nation, playing up provides far less value than playing in one’s own age group. So one must ask, when considering having their student play up: Is this the best possible use of the time and resources that will be consumed by playing up?

No matter how talented or well conditioned a tennis player may be, if they cannot function under the pressure of facing and defeating their peers, they have a serous mental toughness deficiency that must be addressed if they are to ever become a champion; and, playing up provides no solution to this problem and may even obscure the problem, deceiving the coach and player into thinking that no mental problem exists.

In short: play your age group unless you are the best in that group. P.S. if a tennis coach wants their player to play up, it may indicate that the coach has serious self doubt about their own ability to have his/her player face and defeat their peers.

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