by Chris McGill
Over the last ten years coaching tennis I have witnessed all sorts of behaviour from parents towards their children at competitions and also when they are practising together. It's great that parents find time to play with their child/children but these are the common mistakes you see and if you get rid of these then both of you will have a much better and more productive time:
1. Forgetting to have fun. This is why your child started playing and regardless of age/standard they still need to enjoy it.
2. Commentating - basically just saying loads of coaching points all at the same time as the child hits the ball. Good coaches give feedback concisely and at the right time. Not all the time.. It becomes white noise to the player.
3. Not hitting or feeding a realistic ball. It's good to challenge your child but use the same colour ball they play with and try to hit the ball at the level they are at or aspiring to get to next. If your child is really struggling to hit the ball then play close together - not miles apart.
4. Focusing on the outcome - not the process. When teaching a new skill/technique then coaches will sell why the player should try to make this change and be encouraging of any slight improvement to technique. The outcome, i.e. success of shot, will come with time and practise
5. Negative feedback: I've heard parents make over critical comments about their child's tennis and then give the wrong coaching point or no coaching point to rectify the technique. This is not constructive. Fair enough be critical but then at least help them achieve the desired outcome.
6. Playing for too long. Quality well structured fun practise will be more productive
7. Putting pressure on child because their "lessons are expensive". It is not your child's fault that their lessons may be more expensive than some other sports. Pressure isn't always a bad thing and they need to deal with it but not because their lessons are relatively expensive.
8. Not hitting enough serves. Coaches make this mistake but I would recommend all practise sessions include the serve and return. They are the most important shots,
9. Falling out with each other. As a parent myself and coach to my step-son this is easier said than done. I tend not to play with my step-son if we have just had an argument or I know we are not in the right mood to play.
10. Forgetting they are children and like us they have bad days!