WHY does your child play tennis? WHY do you spend so much of your time, support, and money on lessons, classes and camps? Is it to win the ALTA City Championships or this weekend’s USTA tournament? Is it to help your junior player make their high school team? Or do you or they have higher aspirations of playing for a college scholarship or even in some exceptionally rare cases, on the professional tour?

While all these goals are great, and each has their place, if this the primary purpose your child is playing the game or you want your child to play, the mark has been missed and neither the child nor you will get what you really want. So, what is it then? There is only one goal that will lead to sustainability and happiness. We must focus on growth. We play tennis to grow. Growth equals happiness and keeps players coming back again and again and again.

Here are some questions we can ask our children to help them keep the game and their purpose for playing in perspective:

  • Did you give 100% effort today?
  • Did you do everything that your coach asked of you?
  • Did you have fun?
  • What did you do that was really good? What did you do that was not so good?
  • Did you learn anything new?
  • If you don’t like the result, is there anything you could have done differently or better to prepare?
  • Did you support your teammates?

Tennis is a vehicle that can accelerate your child’s growth in life. Unfortunately, it can stunt their growth too if it is not put in proper perspective. We must focus on tennis as a tool for your child to grow. Sooner or later, if they are growing they will naturally win and ultimately reach many of the “secondary” goals such as winning a tournament, playing high school or college tennis, or the best one of all: playing tennis when they are a grown adult! If your child wants to play tennis for a lifetime, when the choice is 100% their own, that’s when the truth of how well we did as parents and coaches will be known.

To put things in perspective:

I started playing tennis when I was four, competed in competitive junior tournaments all over the southeast from age ten to eighteen, got a scholarship to play Division I college tennis where I played all four years, I graduated and started teaching tennis, then started a tennis academy of my own where I actively teach and still compete with as much passion as ever. I say this only to make a point that my parents did so many things right! I will share these tools with you in PART II of  “Calling all Tennis Parents”; How to Create Drive and Perseverance in Your Child.