Let Them Do It Their Way

Published: April 7, 2014

My boy played in a tennis match yesterday & had a great time. He lost both his singles & doubles but played well especially in the singles where he had a match point in the deciding 3rd set Match Tie-break.

Watching from a distance, it occurred to me that kids play exactly how they want to play irrespective of what anyone says or thinks. Players, young & old will only change their game when they believe they need to, not when they are told they need to by a parent or coach. They have to ‘buy in’ to the idea & understand it’s relevance in a wider context.

Coaches & parents can suggest & coax but a player will adapt over time, when it suits them. There are numerous explanations for this. One is that children (& many adults including me!) don’t like being told what to do. It’s the rebellious/stubborn streak within us all.

Another reason is that at any given moment in their development, they might not be able to make changes due to lack of co-ordination, strength, speed, ball tracking skills etc. Children develop at different rates & what works for one might not be appropriate for another. They might want to make changes to their game, but are constrained by physiological factors, not by the lack of desire.

Sometimes as is the case with my boy, kids just don’t want to make the necessary changes. to improve. They’re happy with how they play. I have to say this is very frustrating but as a parent & coach you have to accept this. You can’t impose your ideals onto your player. It’s unfair & it won’t work. Just sit back, encourage, support & try to ignore those bad habits that you’re desperate to change! If they want your help, they’ll probably ask for it.