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View Full Version : Fathers/Sons, Emotions, and Tennis


momtogrif
06-12-2009, 07:51 PM
Quick background: my husband was a tennis pro, played in college, and continues to play in men's 4.5 leagues today. Our son was never pushed into tennis but we would take him to the courts and teach him the basics. In the past year or so, our son has really taken to the sport. He's doing well and has started playing in tournaments. He takes lessons from a club pro and does the summer clinics in the AM. My son is VERY emotional(maybe it's the age thing) and he really wants to 'impress' dad with his tennis skills, etc. Here's where the problem comes in.
My husband will go out with our son and will 'coach' him on court. Telling him to do what his actual coach said, giving him tips on strategy, footwork, etc. Unfortunately, my son has a short fuse and he melts down when my husband starts talking. He takes it too personally and gets distracted by emotions and the whole session becomes a mess. Then they both walk off court stating that they hate tennis...blah, blah, blah. And, I'm left trying to help them pick up the pieces. Honestly, I'm tired of it but my son is wanting to play 2-3 hours a day. I'd like to get him out playing out points, etc. Unfortunately, I'm on hiatus b/c of tennis elbow so I can't take him out. I've tried to set up times for our son to meet with other kids but they all seem to be on vacation or their parents aren't interested in 'letting go' of their kids and letting them get more court time.

Anyone ever been there, done that with their own parents or children? Should my husband and son take a break from each other on court? What other strategies can I employ to help keep the peace?

atatu
06-12-2009, 07:59 PM
Your husband, as the adult, needs to adjust his approach. He need to just keep his mouth shut, except for a few words of encouragement and just feed your kid balls or play points with him. Tomorrow my nine year old will play in his first tournament, he isn't that good yet, this is just to get him some experience playing a tournament. I know I'm going to have to resist telling him what he did wrong as soon as he comes off the court, so win or lose, we are going to go somewhere fun for lunch, and I'm going to just make some mental notes. In a couple of days I'll mention to him what I thought he could do better...that's the plan at least.

flat
06-12-2009, 10:44 PM
it's very very hard. I had the same experience, not only in tennis, but also with tutoring my own kids.

I decided that since I couldn't keep my mouth shut and my temper in check, I would just spend the money and have professionals do it. He goes to team tennis, and clinics during the summer, has more fun, and plays with bunch of other kids instead of just his dad....

Would have been much cheaper if I can keep my mouth shut. But it's almost a gut/subconscious reaction when you see bad form/movement/carelessness...repeated again and again. I tried multiple ways to keep my temper, but somehow my attitude/reaction still comes thru.

So...spend the money and move on...both happier that way.

Figjam
06-13-2009, 12:17 AM
Your parenting sucks, to be blunt...(but hey I guess that makes you just like everyone else!)
Not sure how old your kid is, but you need to teach him patience and and persistance.
Having a winy cry baby on court sucks.
Just last week I was watching My friends league team and on of the opponenets was just throwing his racquet all over the court(clay court) and yelling out... he was acting like a 5yo, about 30 yrs too late.

Go back to the basics, or else hes going to be one to those short tempered hot heads, whos parents handed everything to him.(im willing to bet im not far off on that one...New car on 16th b-day right?)

eeytennis
06-13-2009, 05:49 AM
I am not sure why this is the case, but when I was a junior I never liked my mom to tell me what to do re: tennis (my dad was at my matches too but it was my mom that would make comments, etc.). The reason it bothered me so much is because my mom had never played tennis before and why should she be telling me what to do, how to play, how to hit, and all of that. I don't know, maybe I just had less patience with her because she was a close family member. Parents and kids don't usually mix well on the tennis court. Your husband I am sure has great intentions but it won't be long before he most likely becomes a crazy, too involved tennis parents. Granted, there are some parent/kid relationships that turn out well...Richard Williams and the Williams sisters, Jennifer Capriati and Stefan Capriati and a few more, but who knows the family dynamics of those families.

Joeyg
06-13-2009, 08:33 AM
I am a teaching pro and junior college coach. In my opinion, the parent/child dynamic makes it almost impossible to coach one's own children.

I know that there are some success stories, but I would be willing to bet that they are dwarfed by the amount of stories of children who gave up the game because they were forced/willing to be coached by a parent.

When either of my children wanted to play, I sent them to another teaching pro. Just too much drama to work with your own kids.

flat
06-13-2009, 11:57 AM
Your parenting sucks, to be blunt...(but hey I guess that makes you just like everyone else!)
Not sure how old your kid is, but you need to teach him patience and and persistance.
Having a winy cry baby on court sucks.


Not sure if you are referring to me or the original poster, but doesn't matter. I guess we both suck.

When I was in college, I had all sorts of theories about how to raise a kid, and how my parents sucked, and what I will or will not do, and my kids will grow up with all sorts of virtues.

I still remember watching news stories about soccer moms/hockey dads and laughing out loud at the "uneducated" parents.

I don't laugh now when I see them. I feel for them...life humbles you.

Figjam
06-13-2009, 12:20 PM
Not sure if you are referring to me or the original poster, but doesn't matter. I guess we both suck.

When I was in college, I had all sorts of theories about how to raise a kid, and how my parents sucked, and what I will or will not do, and my kids will grow up with all sorts of virtues.

I still remember watching news stories about soccer moms/hockey dads and laughing out loud at the "uneducated" parents.

I don't laugh now when I see them. I feel for them...life humbles you.


You forgot little league parents... Yes most parents (and teacher) do suck.
Heres the VERY basic reason why...
Both of them rarely if ever give Kids the mental tools they need. All they ever do is tell their kids what to do. The dont teach them to think and figure things out. Kids half raise themselves... Its like putting together an engine... dont put it together right and it wont run well or get very far with out a lot of maintenance, much less perform at a peak level.
But people in general are so messed up.... Those that yell out, quit easily, have low self esteem (which is most people, as everyone one wants to be accepted, and will give in to conform to their "group") dont usally get very far.

Why A couple weeks ago I hit with a guy that said he spent a year at Bolletieri's, and it showed.... But what also showed was the guy was a burn out, You know the type... He'd only get so far no matter how good he was, because he was just "normal" like everyone else...(which really isnt saying much, since the bar is so low)

BUt it is true... Blame the parents, Not in the way that most people think, not for immediate actions, but those far in the the future... After about 8-9yo, its too late the kids already deveopled his charachter, not much more change going to happen there only controling it.

Look at Donald Young... Hese NEVER going to make it big, his parents F'ed it up for him.

momtogrif
06-13-2009, 01:58 PM
Your parenting sucks, to be blunt...(but hey I guess that makes you just like everyone else!)
Not sure how old your kid is, but you need to teach him patience and and persistance.
Having a winy cry baby on court sucks.
Just last week I was watching My friends league team and on of the opponenets was just throwing his racquet all over the court(clay court) and yelling out... he was acting like a 5yo, about 30 yrs too late.

Go back to the basics, or else hes going to be one to those short tempered hot heads, whos parents handed everything to him.(im willing to bet im not far off on that one...New car on 16th b-day right?)

You know, my son may have been emotional with my husband on the court, but when he plays matches he's cool as a cucumber. The other kid's are falling apart, slamming balls into the net, yelling at themselves, etc and my kid just stands there waiting for the next point. He's very even tempered when he's playing, it's just when he's with dad and the 'tips from dad' start that he falls apart. Sometimes they do go out and hit and have a great time together. My husband is very encouraging and yes, we are all bad parents(really, when you get right down to it b/c we're all human and make mistakes). It's just something about the father/son dynamic that throws our son off.
I agree with Flat here, that's why we hired a pro, put him in a junior league, and have him taking clinics. He gets around kids, makes friends, and just plays tennis! We certainly don't want him to HATE the sport but if he wants to start playing golf next year, that's ok too!

momtogrif
06-22-2009, 06:52 PM
Could use some more input on this one! My husband just doesn't understand that our son is only 10 and doesn't have the logic skills to play like an adult. He is really frustrated that my son keeps trying to slice the ball instead of hitting a forehand and that our son won't step into the ball, he's hitting off his back foot. I keep telling him that's what the coach is for, but he just wants to go on and on about it and about how he just doesn't understand why our son won't hit a regular forehand. He(our son) likes to dink the ball over but my husband keeps telling him that he's going to get killed at the next level if he keeps playing like this. It frustrates my husband to no end, and I'm just tired of tennis, quite frankly! Love the sport, hate the frustration!

TennisCoachFLA
06-22-2009, 07:06 PM
Could use some more input on this one! My husband just doesn't understand that our son is only 10 and doesn't have the logic skills to play like an adult. He is really frustrated that my son keeps trying to slice the ball instead of hitting a forehand and that our son won't step into the ball, he's hitting off his back foot. I keep telling him that's what the coach is for, but he just wants to go on and on about it and about how he just doesn't understand why our son won't hit a regular forehand. He(our son) likes to dink the ball over but my husband keeps telling him that he's going to get killed at the next level if he keeps playing like this. It frustrates my husband to no end, and I'm just tired of tennis, quite frankly! Love the sport, hate the frustration!

Oh my Mom...I feel your frustration! Dad is getting worked up at Jr., Jr. is coming home crying from clinics, and you are getting tired of the whole thing.

The thing is...your husband is 100% right as far as his technical tennis advice, the boy won't have success down the line hitting off the back foot and dinking the ball. But your husband may also be the wrong messenger.

I think it may be time for a family meeting to discuss whether this tennis thing is bringing enjoyment to the family or just leading to negative feelings. Then is Jr. truly wants to get better, discuss who he wants to learn from. A lot of kids just want the coach to coach and mom and dad to talk about anything but tennis at home.

Teaching ones own kids is very hard....my 5 year old will listen to anyone but mom and dad when it comes to tennis!

momtogrif
06-22-2009, 07:48 PM
Oh, TennisCoachFLA, my husband knows he's the wrong messenger, but he just can't control himself on court. He was a pro back when we were dating but he's an information buffet when it comes to tennis and I think he gives too much of it to the kid!
We've discussed with our son about tennis and whether he loves it, etc. And, he says he does. He wants to go out and hit so badly that he'll beg my husband to take him out and then things fall apart. Why does my son want this punishment. I told them both today that they will not be hitting together any time soon. I can take our son out and feed him balls if needed.
What I really want to do is get my husband to call the coach and tell him how things are on court and ask him for advice. Our coach has 2 junior players himself!

I agree with you about the messenger, but the problem is also that our son has trouble even with his coach. He struggles with his game and his form constantly, almost like his brain and body aren't communicating or he has no memory of hitting that one shot properly and then he can't recreate it....does that make sense? What drives even me crazy is that he does have potential to be a good player at a higher level but he is stubborn and thinks he's better than he really is so he gets a bit arrogant. Kind of like; my coach will tell me what I need to do, but I'm going to slice the ball in my matches anyway. Not saying this is exactly what my son thinks but I wonder why he won't apply what he learns at lessons to his matches???

TennisCoachFLA
06-23-2009, 06:50 AM
Oh, TennisCoachFLA, my husband knows he's the wrong messenger, but he just can't control himself on court. He was a pro back when we were dating but he's an information buffet when it comes to tennis and I think he gives too much of it to the kid!
We've discussed with our son about tennis and whether he loves it, etc. And, he says he does. He wants to go out and hit so badly that he'll beg my husband to take him out and then things fall apart. Why does my son want this punishment. I told them both today that they will not be hitting together any time soon. I can take our son out and feed him balls if needed.
What I really want to do is get my husband to call the coach and tell him how things are on court and ask him for advice. Our coach has 2 junior players himself!

I agree with you about the messenger, but the problem is also that our son has trouble even with his coach. He struggles with his game and his form constantly, almost like his brain and body aren't communicating or he has no memory of hitting that one shot properly and then he can't recreate it....does that make sense? What drives even me crazy is that he does have potential to be a good player at a higher level but he is stubborn and thinks he's better than he really is so he gets a bit arrogant. Kind of like; my coach will tell me what I need to do, but I'm going to slice the ball in my matches anyway. Not saying this is exactly what my son thinks but I wonder why he won't apply what he learns at lessons to his matches???

I hear you. Kids all learn differently. Some can mirror a great stroke shown to them a few times. Others need constant reminding until it clicks. Others like myself were deemed 'uncoachable' at 12 because we were too pig headed to be coached and ended up being great playgroud ballers but lousy organized players!

Does he play 'practice matches'? In other words, he hits fine in practice, then starts reverting to bad habits in matches.

Have you tried simulating matches in a practice setting, keeping score, creating some pressure? Maybe you can transition him from practice to practice matches to real matches and see if you can get the strokes to stay consistent.

momtogrif
06-23-2009, 10:36 AM
I hear you. Kids all learn differently. Some can mirror a great stroke shown to them a few times. Others need constant reminding until it clicks. Others like myself were deemed 'uncoachable' at 12 because we were too pig headed to be coached and ended up being great playgroud ballers but lousy organized players!

Does he play 'practice matches'? In other words, he hits fine in practice, then starts reverting to bad habits in matches.

Have you tried simulating matches in a practice setting, keeping score, creating some pressure? Maybe you can transition him from practice to practice matches to real matches and see if you can get the strokes to stay consistent.

His coach tries to get him out playing practice matches at least 2x a week and he plays on a JR USTA tennis team and I actually see him use better preparation and getting set up better on his shots. But, he's afraid in matches(real matches, not practice) to go for too much so he gives his opponent easy shots that can be put away.
He hit much better today but still got in trouble for using slice when it was unnecessary. And, he says that he 'knows' he shouldn't hit slice but his body just does it anyway and then he gets mad at himself!

Sometimes I wonder if group clinics create bad habits for some kids. I know he had a previous coach who didn't want us to put him in clinics b/c he was afraid our son would learn bad habits and I wonder if that's part of our issue here?

TennisCoachFLA
06-23-2009, 01:49 PM
His coach tries to get him out playing practice matches at least 2x a week and he plays on a JR USTA tennis team and I actually see him use better preparation and getting set up better on his shots. But, he's afraid in matches(real matches, not practice) to go for too much so he gives his opponent easy shots that can be put away.
He hit much better today but still got in trouble for using slice when it was unnecessary. And, he says that he 'knows' he shouldn't hit slice but his body just does it anyway and then he gets mad at himself!

Sometimes I wonder if group clinics create bad habits for some kids. I know he had a previous coach who didn't want us to put him in clinics b/c he was afraid our son would learn bad habits and I wonder if that's part of our issue here?

I think you make a great point, the group clinics can confuse kids and cause them not to focus. Lets face it, each kid will hit shots differently, according to their body types and skills.

Glad he hit well today! I think if he keeps at it, especially practice matches, he will get past this hurdle of not going for it in matches.

Please be sure that you and dad let him know that matches at this age are for learning and trying difficult strokes at times. Unfortunately the kids who just try to play it safe in matches at 10 get passed by those who go for it sooner or later.