For children to thrive and reach their maximum potential in a sport, they need enjoyment, determination, and a positive environment. If children feel a negative attitude towards a place, they are less likely to build the confidence that sports need.
This is true for tennis. Because tennis is both a physical and mental game, it is essential for children to feel comfortable and confident in their learning and training space. If the tennis environment is hostile or negative, your child might resent the sport which can lead to poor development.
A tennis environment should have the following elements to be successful:
- Supportive network
- Positive affirmation
- Constructive criticism
- Pressure at appropriate times
These elements need to be met by figures in your child’s tennis life. These include the coach, the other tennis players at the club, and you as the parent.
First, the supportive network should involve the tennis club, the tennis coaches, and the wider community. A child needs to feel welcomed and like they belong. If they feel rejected or ostracized in any way, the tennis club is no longer a supportive network. Rather, they should look forward to meeting their tennis peers and tennis coach at each training session.
As for positive affirmation, this should be both given and received. Your child should learn to compliment others on their tennis game and learn how to receive compliments. Affirming someone in sport can be positive for mental and emotional development. It is also good for general life social skills.
Not only should your child be able to receive positive praise, but also constructive criticism. The coach is the main deliver of this feedback. If the coach is mean and aggressive in telling your child what they did wrong in tennis training, it can shut them down on many emotional levels. If there is any negative energy coming from the coach, you need to resolve this immediately.
Finally, while you want your child to succeed at tennis, you should go about carefully with piling on too much pressure too early approach. Putting too much pressure on kids to stick at tennis, to train too hard, or to always be the best can be negative for their self-esteem. While you should affirm and praise your child, remember that they need space and time to breath away from the court. Don’t let tennis become the sole focus of their life too young.