Tennis Psychology and Tennis Parents – Do You Expect Miracles?

Do you expect your tennis kid to always perform well or win? Do you have a hard time focusing on what your kids do well on the court instead of focusing on mistakes? I receive many questions from sports parents about their young athletes’ performance. One question parents ask me: “Am I too hard on my young athlete?” Yes, most parents are.Just today, I received an email from a sports parent about his child. He stated, “I am sometimes hard on my son and tend to see his weaknesses more then his positive qualities!” As a tennis parent myself, I have to agree. I find myself focusing more on the mistakes my child makes in matches instead of the wonderful shots she makes.I think one reason many tennis parents focus on mistakes and weaknesses is that they know what their kids are capable of in practice and matches. For example, one week your child might play flawlessly winning every match in the tournament. Naturally, our expectations as parents shoot up: “My child should be able to perform like this all the time!”I call this the “peak performance dilemma.” Some athletes judge every performance based on their best performance! They think, “If I can play great one time, I should do it all the time.” I think tennis parents adopt this same attitude. When our kids don’t perform up to their potential, it’s easier to focus on the mistakes and what they are doing wrong (compared to their best performances).What’s the solution to this dilemma? First, you want to be careful not to compare every match your athlete plays to his best match. Second, you have force yourself to focus on what your child is doing well in each match, especially after the match on the car ride home. Don’t pick apart every mistake your young athlete made in the last match. I suggest to parents that you compliment your player for one or two things she might have done well in the match, before saying anything else.When you think your child under-performed during a match, giving complements is very hard to do (trust me I know this personally). Try to focus on your players positive qualities. Your kids know what mistakes they made and don’t want to be reminded after the match!

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