Keeping your kids determined to keep playing tennis and improve can be a daunting task. It’s so easy for them to get discouraged whenever they have a bad day. They can hit a few bad shots and then before you know it your child has stopped trying altogether. This can lead to losses in a tournament and a plateau in their tennis game. The easiest way to get your child’s focus back is to set goals. You should use both short-term and long-term goals. With the right goals, you will be able to refocus your kid. Short term goals are used for specific practices, matches, or tournaments. These goals are no more than a week long and are to be used to make sure that they don’t goof around or start tanking during matches and practices. Long-term goals should be used to keep your child motivated. If they have long-term goals, they will be more likely to want to play as they try to work and accomplish them.
Now, if it were as easy as just setting goals, then we would have a lot more superstars coming out of all the local clubs. If you give your child ridiculous goals, then nothing will come of it. They have to be well thought out and SMART. SMART goals have been on the rise and are now used all over the US in both businesses and homes. SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely.
The first thing to do when creating a goal is to pick a topic. What is it that you and your child want to work on. Is it their serve? Ranking? Winning a tournament? Decide on one thing to work on or accomplish and then set out to make your smart goal.
For our example, we will pick serves.
Specific- Double faults
Measurable- No more than three on average in tournament matches
Achievable- In private lessons, I am working on my serve so I should be able to do this in a short period of time
Realistic- My average right now is 5 per match. If I work hard, I can cut it down to 3.
Timely- 6 weeks
Putting it all together- I will double fault no more than three times a match in tournaments within six weeks. I am already working on my serve and am down to an average of 5 double faults a match. Cutting it down to 3 should be reasonable.
With this goal, they will be able to keep track of their improvement and stay motivated as they keep getting better.
It is also important that you work with your child to set these goals. Setting up the goals for them isn’t going to do much to motivate them. If they don’t want to achieve something, it’s going to be like pulling teeth trying to get them to do it.
Using Long and Short Term Goals
Now that we know how to set up goals, it’s time to learn how to use long-term and short-term goals together.
First, you start with the long-term goal. Have them pick something to work on and then create their long-term goal. Their first goal should be no more than a month long. It’s important to get quick wins at first to keep them motivated. After accomplishing two or three long-term goals then you can increase the length of time it takes to achieve them. Try to keep it to less than six months out. Since your kids are still relatively, young six months is a long time for them. If you really want to set a goal that’s a year or more out then make sure you set up goals that are two to three months long that they have to achieve along the way.
Once the long-term goal is set up, it’s time to work backward to set up short-term goals that will help them out along the way. If we stick to the example of hitting no more than three double faults on average in tournament matches, then some good examples would be hitting no more than four double faults in a specific match or making 9/10 second serves during practice. Use the same SMART process for setting up these goals and slowly make them harder as the time to accomplish their long-term goal gets closer. It is important that your child remembers to try for these short-term goals during their practice and matches. That being said the easiest way to do this is to have them write it down on a piece of paper and have them read it every time they get a drink of water.
With your child’s goals in place, they will have more motivation to play and better focus while they play. The last piece of advice is to MAKE SURE YOU CELEBRATE THIER WINS! It’s incredibly important to acknowledge when your kid achieves a short-goal and celebrate when they accomplish a long-term one. Celebrating does not have to be anything big. It could be anything from a dinner at the restaurant of their choice to not having to do chores for a day. Anything will work as long as they take a second to take in their accomplishment before moving on to the next goal.
I hope this post was helpful! Please let me know how it worked/what you think in the comments below!