There is nothing more enjoyable to see during tournaments I run or matches I coach than parents supporting their child as they are competing. Unfortunately, I’ve also seen these situations become disconcerting. Parents that do not cheer their child on appropriately are making it not only an uncomfortable experience for those around but it also gives more stress to their child who is already having to deal with a challenging time competing on the court. Let’s take a look at some important tips while supporting your child during their matches.
Understand The Situation
I have a “Parent/Son or Daughter Day” during our high school tennis season to help parents understand how hard it is to play tennis. The spot light is on them and they cannot pass the ball but rather have to compete at their best ability no matter what. Knowing your child is not trying to miss but rather dealing with a stressful situation to the best of their ability might help give you the right words to say while cheering your child on. For example, when your child misses, they know they missed. There is no need to let them know that they made a mistake. Rather help alleviate the stress by saying something positive. Compliment effort not the result.
Give Your Child Time To Be Upset After A Defeat
A defeat can be hard for a child to take. Even with good intentions, children can perceive the talk as a reminder to what they did wrong. Give him or her time to be alone if they choose to be. This also gives the child opportunities to deal with defeats that will help him or her deal with other setbacks that they will encounter.
Get a Feel For What Cheering Is Best For Your Child
Some children love to hear their parents voice during a match while others would rather them stay quiet. Regardless, I do believe that there needs to be open communication to let your child know that all you want is to enjoy watching him or her play tennis. The emphasis is love and support, not judgment. If you can make that clear then you should have a good indication of what that support looks like during his or her matches.
Celebrate Effort Not Outcome
Carol Dweck’s book Mindset gives strong evidence that it is detrimental for a Childs’ growth to congratulate outcomes rather than effort. Be careful about what you are saying to your child after a match. Are you emphasizing the outcome or the process that got to that outcome? Make sure your child knows that your love isn’t dependent on them winning or losing.
Learn The Game!
The more you get involved with the sport of tennis the more you will be able to help your child through their own journey of learning and improving their skills at the sport we love!