Motivating Kids in Tennis
OK, my daughter – age 10 – and I were practicing this week to prepare for a local USTA tournament. I got frustrated one day with her lack of motivation and inability to focus during practice.
My philosophy: Do it right or don’t do it at all.
But I forget: Young kids have difficult time focusing in practice when they don’t have enough fun or feel challenged. You know, Dad can be boring!
I can tell right from the start of practice that she was not going to focus or try – as if she did not want to be at practice. She wanted to go back to watching Hanna Montana. Dad was boring her to death…
Tennis kids have a hard time understanding the relationship between focus in practice and their performance in matches. But I know better… It’s not enough to show up, you have to practice with the same intensity, focus, and effort that you would give in a tournament.
We call this practice specificity in sports psychology for tennis. You want your practice to match the intensity and focus required to play well in matches.
The closer you can make your practice to match situations, the more effective practice is. But I don’t think kids understand this relationship because they just want to have fun with friends and play games – at least this is my daughter’s orientation in tennis. She has to be excited about something to get her head in the game.
I cannot motivate her to focus in practice if she does not want give 100%. Maybe that’s why I get frustrated at times. I tried to tell her that everything she does in life, not just tennis, should be with full focus and effort.
Why give anything less?
So, I pulled out a “contract” we put together stating that he would give 100% focus and effort in her tennis practice. In return, I would treat her to an occasional smoothie or ice cream after practice. I reminded her we had a deal together.
We also discussed the idea that she should hit shots in practice as if she was playing in a tournament. She’s usually motivated and focused for tournaments.
“But it’s just practice, not a match.”
I guess she didn’t understand my point about practicing with the same intensity as a match.
For this reason, you have to involve kids in play and games instead of just drilling them on the perfect forehand. Kids get bored quickly with “drills” if they do not have an outcome or game component to the drills.
I was able to cap a parental urge to push my tennis kid beyond what she was able to do that day, but learned a valuable lesson:
Tennis kids must be self-motivated, have personal incentives to play, and push themselves towards success.
Do you want more sports psychology articles, videos, and e-books for tennis kids, check out Kids’ Sports Psychology.
Learn Proven Mental Game Strategies To Perform Your Best On The Court!
Do you bring your best and most confident game to matches?
Successful tennis players have learned how to perform with ultimate confidence in tournaments.
If you are ready to improve your mental toughness and perform with ultimate self-confidence in matches, Tennis Confidence: Mental Toughness For Tournament Players can help you do this!
Use Tennis Confidence to help boost your mental toughness in tennis and discover powerful and proven mental game strategies that have helped professional athletes win!
What are mental game customers saying?
“On behalf of all of our coaches who attended the 2004 ITA Coaches Convention, I would like to thank you for serving as a featured clinician. I know that the coaches felt it was both enjoyable and informative. We greatly appreciate your taking the time to prepare and present such an outstanding clinic for the benefit of our coaches.”
~Nancy Breo, ITA Convention
Download Our Free Tennis Psychology Report!
Discover if you are making one or more of these “costly” unforced mental game errors during matches!
Download our free Tennis Psychology Report:
- How your mind can be your best or worst asset on the court.
- If you are using your mind effectively between points.
- One strategy that can help you let of go the last point.
- The top mental game skills you need to master to boost your confidence and performance between points.
Click here to download your FREE report today: Six Unforced ‘Mental Game’ Errors Tennis Players Make Between Points
What are tennis players saying?
“Since you last worked with AJ in early September, his National ranking has improved from 349 to 148. His tournament record at one point, since talking with you was 17-4, with 3 of the 4 being in third sets or tiebreakers and 2 of those matches being the same player, whom he has since beaten (you may recall he was on an 0-9 losing streak when we contacted you). His tie-breaker record is at least 90% through last weekend when he won the 18s District tournament with a semi and final match tiebreak win. Your help has definitely improved AJ’s results and his on-court demeanor has substantially improved.”
~Dawn Woodman, A.J.’s Mother
Boost Your Self-Confidence And Focus With Expert Mental Game Coaching!
Master mental game coach Dr. Patrick Cohn can help you overcome your mental game issues with personal coaching.
You can work with Dr. Patrick Cohn himself in Orlando, Florida or via Skype, FaceTime, or telephone. Call us toll free at 888-742-7225 or contact us for more information about the different coaching programs we offer!
What are our mental coaching students saying?
“Maggie had such a great weekend. As always, after she works with you she just seems more grounded and focused. She’s less likely to look around and get distracted during her match. She’s more focused on one point at a time. Also, as a parent, I’ve learned to encourage her process goals and not outcomes. Consequently, she played well and won her first doubles match, upsetting a seeded team in a really really close match!”
~Katherine Johnson Cannata, Maggie’s mother