Tennis is an individual sport at first glance as the player is obviously alone on the court battling it out with his opponent.
He is also the only one in the spotlight and lifting the trophy on occasion.
But the secret of success of each and every tennis player who made it lies in the tennis triangle that must run smoothly behind the scenes.
The tennis triangle is formed by the player, his parents and his coach and each of them has a specific role that they need to execute well in order to make this complex relationship work and help the player succeed with their goals.
Even when the player’s goals are not as high as becoming a pro or winning Wimbledon, they are always important to the player and the roles of the parents and the coach are not in any way less important.
The Role of The Player
The player is the reason why this triangle formed in the first place.
And in order to achieve the most out of his involment in tennis and reach his goals, he must follow certain rules:
- The desire to play and compete in tennis must come from him and not from any other person
- Tennis must not be a source of only external rewards like points, rankings and trophies, but also a very enjoyable activity he wants to pursue regardless of the outcome. In other words, there must be powerful intrinsic motivation for the player to play tennis.
- If the player does decide for serious training in tennis, he must stick to this goal for a longer period of time as the positive results of his training may come at different periods of his career.
- He should not only follow the instructions of the coach but be an active participant of the training sessions, engaging with his coach and providing valuable feedback.
- He needs to adopt important life values like being honest, hardworking, confident, sincere and friendly.
The Role of the Parents
Without parent support there would be no tennis for the player at all.
But even parents need to abide to certain roles in order to make the triangle work well.
- They need to provide the support for the player in all phases of development.
- The support comes not only in the form of financial and logistical support but also in the form of emotional support at all times during the challenging years of adolescence, puberty and beyond.
- They are the role models for their children when it comes to behaviour and their relationship with other tennis players, umpires, coaches and sport overall.
- They must instill the most important life values in their kids from an early age.
Since parents are the most important authority figures in child’s early life, they carry an enormous responsibility and power that affects the child’s career.
Research has shown that without strong support and interest from parents it’s very unlikely for the player do reach their peak potential.
On the other hand, it has also been shown that much of the emotional stress that affects young tennis players also comes from the parents.
If this continues in the long term it very often causes burn out and end of a tennis career for a young player.
For this reason we highly recommend the free ebook Being a Better Tennis Parent by the International Tennis Federation that provides the parents with better understanding of the complexity of competitive international tennis as well as the demands the young player has to go through while pursuing his or hers career in tennis.
The free ebook gives the parents a deeper understanding into the psychology of winning and losing and how they can help their children cope with it.
There is a multitude of suggestions and recommendations on:
- how to discuss the matches,
- how to be emotionally supportive in any situation,
- how to look for signs of stress and deal with them,
- how to behave and what body language to show to your child during the matches
- and many more.
Similarly, the USTA offers a Parent’s Guide with more sound advice on how to support your child during all phases of a tennis career.
Their guide covers various topics including:
- how to set goals and how to deal with expectations,
- why it’s crucial that you play tennis too with your kids from time to time regardless whether you’re a tennis player or not,
- how to guide, support and interact your child in different development stages from years 3-7, 8-11, 12-15 and 16-18,
- and how to prepare and plan for possible collegiate tennis which can be a very rewarding experience from sports and education stand point.
The Role of the Coach
The coach has a role of a director who guides and leads the development process of the player.
He / she is responsible for the athletic development of the player.
- The coach uses his expertise in the game of tennis to develop and improve technical, tactical, mental and physical skills of the player.
- The coach develops short and long terms plans for player’s development and points out important periods of development as well as potential traps and setbacks that might happen along the way.
- The coach is responsible for the analysis and evaluation of player’s results.
- The coach can work on solving specific behavioral issues of the player in conjunction and agreement with the parents.
The tennis triangle functions optimally only when:
- All participants are cooperating fully
- Each knows their role and performs it well
- There is clear communication between all participants
- All participants work together in solving the problems of the player when they arise
The fact of a competitive tennis journey is that it’s an extremely complex and ever changing endeavor therefore the parents, the player and the coach must be flexible enough to adapt to new conditions and always work together in order to deal with any challenges that inevitably arise during this journey.
What if there was a database in the cloud with measurements of player’s performance during matches, his current skill levels and abilities and future training plans, that parents, the coach and the player could access at any time?
How would that in your opinion improve the effectiveness of the tennis triangle and therefore accelerate player’s improvement?