As a parent, it can be all too easy to get caught up in your child’s match in a tennis tournament. Tennis can be a rollercoaster of a sport. With all the ups and downs, spectators tend to show all their emotions without much thought. While some kids might like it when their parents show emotion, to most it ends up being a distraction, and a distraction is the last thing you want to be to your kid while they’re in a match.
It is essential that you sit down and figure out what your child wants from you at a tennis tournament. Each child will want something a little different from you during matches. Some will want a rock, others will want encouragement, and some might not want their parents there at all.
Not wanting you there
Kids can get nervous when their parents watch them play matches. Having a parent at the tournament can add extra pressure which can make an already tough match seem impossible. Them not wanting you there is not an insult to you. It just means they care about what you think and want you to think highly of them.
If they don’t want you to watch them play matches, then do your best not to do so. While there is nothing wrong with trying to grab a few sneak peaks of the match, getting caught watching might distract your child. Making it essential to do your best to stay out of sight. If you are close to your home, consider staying there during a match.
All that being said, it is important that you see your child’s progress. So eventually you should ask if you can stay for a match. Try to stay for one that might be easier and make sure you ask your child how they want you to act while watching.
Wanting you to watch
If your child does want you to watch their matches, the next question is how do they want you to act.
Some kids will want you to encourage them from the sideline actively. Encouragement could be anything from a smile, to a clap, to a fist pump. If your child is looking for support, then they just want to know that you are in their corner. The most important thing is that you seem happy to be there and are focused on the match.
Just want you there
A lot of kids just want to know that you are there. They don’t need encouragement, and they just want you to watch. If this is the case, make sure that you stay neutral with your body language while watching. You can show positive body language after excellent points, but for the most part, remain neutral as you watch.
It is important that you never show negative body language while watching your child’s match. Kids are hard enough on themselves. There is no need to add to the negativity. Negativity ends up being a distraction as your kids will be trying to do things to win your approval instead of just focusing on the match.
While showing your emotions during a match is fine during a tournament, in most USTA Sections, coaching is not. If you talk to your child or try to give them hand signals during a match your child could be disqualified. Be sure to look up the specific rules for coaching during a tournament on your local USTA website. Make sure you avoid coaching during a tournament and report parents that are clearly trying to coach during a match.
As kids grow, your relationship with them will change and what they want from you in tournaments will as well. It is important to revisit this topic every couple of months and ask your child if what you did while watching them was what they wanted.
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