When I decided to teach my (then) 4, respectively 5 year old two daughters how to play tennis I was both excited and terrified in the same time.
I had already enough experience playing and teaching tennis for almost 30 years but putting all my knowledge on the line to help my two daughters fall in love with the sport was a major job for me.
As a tennis teaching professional you can encounter a lot of pressure when it comes to teaching your own children.
Despite that, after a serious discussion with my wife, we have decided that nobody would ever put more passion in teaching our daughters as much as I would do it as a parent and tennis coach.
BUT… there was one step that had to be carefully planned:
How to make my kids take me seriously as a coach and change their perception toward me from the “fun daddy” to… “coach daddy”?
Up to that point, I was the daddy who was coming home and they would jump on his back, go for bike rides, go to the beach, read with them, and have fun.
That was all good in the beginning when we began to transfer those fun activities onto the tennis court, but at some point we had to ease into the technical aspects of the tennis strokes and learn that tennis requires some serious moments when repetition and certain focused activities are not as entertaining as the games my daughters were used to play with me.
Something had to be done. Something that would get my daughters to ask me to teach them how to play tennis and allow me to introduce them to the mechanical aspects of tennis strokes and footwork.
After careful analysis and long discussions with my wife, we both agreed that the best solution to have our daughters be willing to learn tennis from me would be to enroll them into group classes under the guidance of a(nother) tennis coach.
We figured that by being enrolled in group classes, our two daughters will see other children playing and enjoying tennis. They will see other children learning, executing the strokes technique and paying attention to a coach’s instructions.
My daughters, in this way, got introduced to tennis by joining other children of their age and observing how others behave in a tennis class.
That was a turning point!
My daughters, soon, decided to allow me to teach them not only the technical aspects, but they wanted to excel by practicing more only to get better and eventually participate in competitions.
If you are a tennis parent, don’t try to teach your children yourself… in the beginning! Allow them to learn by participating and observing other kids of their age, first. Only after they get introduced to tennis together with other children, they will be more open to learning and working hard… just like they saw other kids doing it.
If you want to learn my step-by-step method and see how I taught my two daughters to play tennis, from the age of 5 respectively 6, up to junior years, visit the WebTennis24 Kids section to follow the “My Daddy / My Coach” video series. You’ll see live and full tennis lessons (each about 45-65 minutes) in which I share all my tennis knowledge in teaching my daughters how to play and fall in love with the sport.
Have fun teaching tennis to your children!
Certified Tennis Teaching Professional
Visit the Training, Coaching and Kids Tennis sections at WebTennis24 – lessons, tips and drills for players, coaches and tennis parents.
Ok, this situation has happened to me many times in my over 27 years of playing tennis:
You play an opponent whom you have competed against before, but in this particular day everything “connects” for him: the ground-strokes are consistent, perfectly placed and timed drop-shots, his lobs are “magically” finding the baseline, the first serves are at a high percentage… and whatever you do the ball finds it way to come back for another shot. In short, your opponent has one of those days when everything connects. So frustrating for you…!
What should you do and how do you play?
One lesson I’ve learned in my entire tennis career is: no matter how good your opponent is playing you should always care for these three things:
1. How long can she/he maintain this level of play?
2. Whatever it takes, I should stay positive and show no sign of frustration to fuel my already confident opponent. 3. Stick with whatever strokes you feel you have control over. It is not the time to try something new. Be humble in your play.
Really, all it takes to win most of the matches against “in the zone” players comes down to the above three mental points.
However you play, always keep in mind that the mentally stronger players always (or at least most of the time) prevail when the balance of technical skills is levelled between players.
The idea to write this article came to me right as I was watching this YouTube video of a 9 year old tennis “prodigy” girl… This particular video was the last drop in the bucket for me regarding a debate that is kind of tabu for a lot of parents and coaches. !!! If you are a tennis parent or coach you might want to stick with me and read this article all the way.
For those who don’t know me, I am a tennis coach and have been teaching tennis since… I was a kid. I have always loved teaching and sharing my knowledge with anyone willing to learn and improve. But this is not about me. It is about a debate that seems to be a sensitive subject for many. It is about whether parents should PUSH their kids to pursue a certain sport…
It’s a great scenario when your child loves a sport, let’s say tennis and he is motivated to improve and cannot wait to get on the tennis court. But there is also a scenario in which you, a parent, love a certain sport, let say (: tennis, and you see your child has no drive, no desire to practice a sport even though he/she has talent and you know that by practicing the sport he/she will benefit tremendously later on in life.
During my tennis teaching career I have met and taught countless adults who confessed that they regretted the fact their parents did not “push” them to stick with and work harder in tennis when they were kids. They are aware that when they were young they had other hobbies who were more comfortable to them like: hanging out with friends, watching TV, video games etc. Those distractions did not account for a more enjoyable life later on.
Now, as a parent myself, I am put in a situation where I have to guide my two daughters (7 and 5 years old) to whether pick up tennis or not. As a tennis coach I would hate myself to have any of my daughters, in 20 years from now, asking me why did I not teach them the sport I am so knowledgeable about? I would hate to know that I have the necessary skills to give my children the gift of a healthy habit (of playing tennis) and not do it.
My problem is the following (and I am sure a lot of parents and coaches have this dilemma): my kids are not “crazy” about playing tennis! My kids would rather just hang around with their friends all day, watch TV and/or indulge in short term fun activities like playing online video games… As a parent I am aware that a few years from now they will find that these activities are not providing a healthy lifestyle for them.
So the BIG question is: should I, as a parent and a coach, step up and “push” my kids into playing the sport I am very proficient in? (Tennis Lessons with Little Kids)
Before I give you MY answer I would like to give YOU some arguments:
– I’ve seen and heard the opinion of many parents stating that kids should be given options and let them choose. I think it is a very wise decision. But what if… while you give your child the many options, you and your child, actually focus on at least one sport that you are sure your kid will benefit in the future. Something like running, swimming, basketball, tennis, surfing, iceskating… These are sports that they can practice for the rest of their life. These are sports that will allow them to stay in shape even after the age of 30, 40 or older. What if we “push” our kids to learn a sport they can practice for the rest of their life? As much as I think playing American Football or Baseball are great and teaches them discipline, hard work and team play, these sports are kind of “dead” for them (as far as the possibility of continuing practicing them) after the age of 25… On the other side, if we just let kids experiment all the sports hoping that one day they will stick with one, they might end up knowing a little bit of every sport but not be good at any one…
– Think about how you were at the age of 7, 8, or 9… Were you aware what would be good for you in ten, twenty, thirty… years later? No, of course not. Therefore we, as parents, must present the future to our kids describing the importance of doing sports and activities that could have an impact for them later on. Even though Johnny loves to play online games, that will not help him be more sociable, driven and outgoing in the future.
Having said that, here are my opinions in regard to providing our children with skills that would help them become successful later on in life:
Every kid should be given the opportunity to learn at least one foreign language.
Kids should also learn how to dance (how many times you went to parties or social gatherings and you envied the ones who were able to move gracefully on the music?).
Every kid should, at some point, know how to defend themselves – get them into a few karate or any self-defence classes.
Children should be given the opportunity to learn how to play at least one musical instrument (piano, violin, saxophone etc.).
Every kid should practice and be good at one sport. Why? Because in order to be good it takes dedication and perseverance. It is easy to begin a sport or anything else and… quit. But if we, as parents, encourage the kids to stick with a sport they will learn that whatever they do and work hard at will become a habit and great things happen when we persevere.
With these said, I think that I should “push” my kids to learn tennis and they should learn from my knowledge to become as good tennis players as they can be. I am sure that whether they will decide to stick with tennis or not, the skills they will learn from practicing and persevering in tennis will help them in life later on too. And I am sure of one thing: my kids will not tell me “Hey Dad, how come you did not teach us tennis?” As I do this, I want to make sure that my kids learn a foreign language, play piano (or guitar), take self-defence classes and take dance lessons too. Everything else… is up to them.
I would love your opinion on this. Please share this article and contribute with your feedback… Thanks!