Adversity strikes

Feb 17, 2013

Provincial Training session at Rexall Centre

My son played a few tennis drills with few kids and executed different tactical plays: with some played more defensive and with other more aggressive.. He was working for some time with his coaches on attacking skills but he opted to choose different styles playing different opponents…
I asked him the reason for that decision because I knew his effort was to build more consistency on attacking style and that the session was just a practice and an opportunity for him to work on developing some skills.
I explained my view that he would need to practice more the new skills to be able to successfully compete in the future and if he is reticent to do it he will not develop and he might have physical issues by engaging too much his defensive style.
I was frustrated, my tone and my face expression displayed that frustration.
Unfortunately I couldn’t control my emotions and the result was that I caused my son to cry and thinking that he didn’t play well, although he always does his best…

The kids ask us for support, encouragements and feedback and in that situation I failed to provide a constructive, optimistic feedback.
Next day my son wanted his mom to take him to practice and he preferred no feedback from me, rather than the one I gave him.

The good part is that kids love us, their parents, and they are very resilient and patient with us.
At the next private lesson he accepted me and he was happy to see me around him.

I  came across of a document published by ITF Development Dept. Being a Better Tennis Parent and I share with you a couple of paragraphs:

“You know that it is not easy to be a good parent and, it is even harder to be a good parent of a tennis player. To know what
is best to do to help your child and also when and where to do it, is not easy.”

“Parents should act as role models by showing their children they can cope with the stress of competitive junior tennis. If
parents, who are mature adults, can’t cope ……… how can we expect young, often immature, players to cope?
Your child needs you most of all as his parents. In that role you are irreplaceable. Don’t forget that your child is first and the
tennis player comes second.”


Anonymous said...

You are right, Silviu. More often than not children look towards their parents for positive feedback and do not react well to criticism. But they have to understand that constructive criticism builds up the player's character just as much as positive feedback, if not more. The trick lies in the approach the parent takes, and a really good way to do it is the feedback sandwich: start with a positive feedback, tell him what he did good; then continue with pointing out what he needs to work on a little more because he's not quite where he could be; and finnaly end by pointing out another thing he's doing very well. Remember, always keep a joyful tone with the kids and make it fun! The pressure of the competition is enough, and he's turning to his parents for support. As much as you want to be involved with his practices, matches and style, remember that you are not the coach; he already has a coach who knows exactly what his strenghts and weaknesses are, and they know how to make him better; your job is simply to support him and reward him for what he's doing well :). Competitive sports are very demanding, especially at the junior level, and if i have give one piece of advice to your son that would be never to give up. There will be moments when he will feel like he's done, or he's not accomplishing the goals he has set for himself, but believe me, he will get there. It takes hard work and determination, but in the end it will pay off.
There is nothing more rewarding than playing sports while growing up. If he's talented, commited and having fun, there is nothing that he can't achieve.
Remember that in tennis, defense is as important as attack. Then each match is different, the player needs to adapt to his opponent's style, so it's normal that he plays more defense against some players than others. It's all part of the game, and once you can instantly switch between attack and defence, then you have a winner.
I hate to repeat myself, but as i said before, practice makes perfect. So keep doing what you are doing, and you can't fail.
And remember to have fun! :)

Silviu Serbanescu said...

Thank you Cezar for your comments and great advise.

Anonymous said...

I watched my (soccer) son last night trip over another player, because he was too busy looking at me for my response to him missing a goal! It's amazing how much they to make us proud! I guess it's not just tennis, but all sports....all kids! You are not alone in your travels. :) Deb