When interviewing coaches for my book, The Perfect Tennis Parent, one world-famous coach said that he would contribute, but that the title was an oxymoron. Even though coaches may feel that way sometimes, I do think there are perfect tennis parents. The Perfect Tennis Parent by definition is one who understands that tennis is the vehicle chosen to teach his or her child valuable life lessons. How do you know if you're a Perfect Tennis Parent? Read on.
The Perfect Tennis Parent (PTP)
Perhaps a rather vague definition, but I have found parents who can remember this simple concept will stay focused along the long, winding roller coaster ride of junior tennis. Most other parents get caught up in the thrill of competition, the excitement of winning, the tug-o-war of beating their neighbors and the science of tournament results and rankings.
As a coach, I have reached the point where I take on new students based largely on their parents. A few things I look for when trying to see if the student has a Type 1 PTP:
1. A Perfect Tennis Parent does not always have to be right. You can spot one from a mile away, because they’re striving to get better, just as a good coach will be doing.
2. A Perfect Tennis Parent should be actively searching to find their role to best support their player and the coach.
3. This parent understands that the player comes first, and doesn’t get overly involved or animated to put the spotlight on themselves.
4. A PTP is respectful. They understand the hard work it will take and the time both the coach and player need to invest. They treat the coach as a reasonable person would treat any important mentor for their child, which makes the coach's life easier and their coaching more successful.
At the end of the day, knowing what type of tennis parent you are and adjusting accordingly is important to building the developmental team of your player with his or her coach. With a good coach and a PTP, coaching can be more productive and lifelong, meaningful relationships are likely to be formed!
Matt has been teaching, coaching nd speaking about junior development for 20 years. He has coached hundreds of collegiate athletes, 67 state champions, and runs a tennis program for 400-plus junior players. Matt is the author of The Perfect Tennias Parent, a guide for parents of competitive juniors that includes interviews with some of the world’s most successful coaches and parents. These individuals have coached or parented some of the all-time tennis greats such as Federer, Sampras, Djokovic, Roddick, the Williams sisters and Capriati. His book is available on Amazon.com or at www.perfecttennisparent.com.