Adversity flavours

March 8, 2013 Burlington –  Provincials Ontario U12

I am trying to create the conditions to allow my son independence with his tennis efforts. I started by deciding to not attend his first day of tourney, even I sensed that the pressure was high, his emotional state not positive, displaying intense un-usual tournament jitters. It was tough for me because I knew he would need me to assure him on his effort and to show him I am supporting him when he is there in the "battle field". I realize that his best interest is for him to have time to reflect on his game without my advice. The outcome for his first match was good, he played well with focus and he won.

I attended the second day but instead of providing direct advice I changed my approach by providing resources for him to reflect on his game by asking questions instead:

- Did you like your yesterday’s game?

- Did you have fun?

- What style of player you played yesterday?

- Did you have fun with that style?

- What type of shots did you enjoy?

- Do you like the fact we are going together in this trip?

- Do you enjoy the courts, colors, lines, and the net setup?

- Did you meet any friends or chat with anybody?

- Did you have pleasant and interesting discussions with your peers?

- Did you like my surprise for you? (I bought him a toy –"Annoying Orange" and I gave him after the came back home from first match)

- Do you like to win and have fun playing your shots? (He always tells me that he has fun when he wins).

- Do you think that it is more fun to check the points and ranking than focus on just playing?

I also told him a bible story with the prophet Solomon and jewellery maker who was given a job by King David to manufacture a special ring. The ring suppose to influence the emotions: the king David would be changing his mood from happiness to sadness and from sadness to happiness by just looking at that ring. Solomon suggested the jewellery maker to not waste too much effort with this job: to do a cheap tin ring and engrave on it "this will not last".

My son played an older and more experienced opponent but he played with intensity and focus. Although he didn't win, I observed he was completely in the game and enjoying playing.

But in consolation...Knockout in 2 rounds:

My son played with a skilful opponent and lost clearly; and this is after only couple of months when he won against same opponent. We are both concerned, my son as a player since he is under impression he did his best and me as a parent, since I am not sure if this another process phase. Did his opponent raise his level within couple months or it was one of his best days? Answer: Stay patient, in the process.



Anonymous said...

Hey Silviu, the losses are the best teaching tools. If he sees losses as a leaning tool, then it takes some of the pressure off. The need to win puts too much pressure on and then skills might begin to break down.

Hopefully, he can see and appreciate how opponents are working at their game, what they've improved on, and their improved confidence.

It might be good to focus on the art of the game, to lighten up on the drills and rigour of practice. I wonder what they do at the big tennis camps to keep it fun?

Gord Collins

Silviu Serbanescu said...

Thank you very much Gord for your insights. I really appreciate it. As you wonderfully picture it, the key points in the process are the approach for learning the sport, to understand its “art” and to express always a positive energy. I hope we will see on the courts soon. Cheers