What is kids sport really about?

In my career, as a player and coach, I have come across plenty of people who make kids sport about winning and losing.  The focus is on creating the next champion whatever the financial or psychological cost!   But statistically speaking our children have more chance earning a living as a brain surgeon than they do as a tennis professional.  So is winning and creating professional players what kids sport should really be all about?  

Personally, I believe kids tennis coaching and competition is about a lot more than learning how to hit a ball, winning a match or creating the next world champion.  In my opinion the true value of children playing tennis lies in the life lessons that the sport can teach.  Life lessons that cannot be easily taught in a classroom or the schoolyard.

Tennis provides an opportunity for kids to be independent in a safe but challenging environment. Through tennis they learn respect, discipline and that success comes with  perseverance.   They are learning to win with humility, accept losses with grace and develop the resilience to get back up and try again! 

In my opinion, tennis more than any other sport, encourages the broadest development of coordination and motor skills – Skills that can be adapted to just about any sport!   In addition kids are learning a sport they can play for the rest of their life.  And importantly its a sport that is easily shared – Played with boys, girls, parents, uncles, aunts and grandparents.  To me these are the things kids sport should be all about.  

I believe children are exposed to so many benefits through playing tennis and they are having fun as they learn. It is a safe and engaging educational environment for teaching kids not only how to succeed in sport but more importantly how to adapt and succeed in life.    

At Tennis For Kids we have structured coaching and fixture matches to provide children with a microcosm of the challenges they will face during their life.  

For example Tennis For Kids coaching teaches children……

  1. Respect, team work and discipline – During group coaching sessions children have to listen and respect their coach. They have to follow instructions, learn to be patient and co-operate with other students.  Coaches incorporate plenty of game play and children learn to contribute to their partner or team’s success. 
  2. Resilience and perseverance – At coaching children learn to try new techniques and skills.  When they first try, they often fail and this can be very confronting for some children (and parents!).  However, in doing so these children learn failure isn’t fatal.  Rather they learn to refocus, adapt and try again.  Watching children (and parents) go through this process is one of the most rewarding parts of being a coach! 
  3. Commitment and hard work – Tennis is a difficult sport to learn. It is rare a sport requires a combination of ball tracking, balance, footwork, technical racquet skills, tactical knowledge, speed, strength, endurance AND control.  In addition, it is also an individual sport so you can’t hide or rely on anybody else.  Because of these factors, tennis teaches children persistence, perseverance and hard work.  Children can quit because tennis isn’t easy or be encouraged to persevere and learn that through hard work difficulties can be overcome and success achieved. 

Tennis For Kids fixtures teaches children……

  1. Independence – At Tennis For Kids fixtures, singles matches are played individually.  Our coaches control the match environment and parents are not allowed on the court.  Often mix ups occur with scores and line calls providing golden “learning opportunities”.  Our coaches watch closely but children are given an opportunity to develop their own opinions and solve their own problems without parental involvement.  In this safe environment our kids develop strength of character and independence.   
  2. Fairness and confidence – At Tennis For Kids fixtures, children have to umpire matches for other children.  They have to call the score out in a loud voice and referee fairly without favouritism and regard to friendships.  This is often difficult for children but over time they develop confidence and come to understand the importance of fairness.
  3. Self control and sportsmanship – No matter how good you are, nobody wins all the time.   Adults understand this, however, for some children this can be difficult to comprehend.  The first time some children experience losing an important match they can be inconsolable – Plenty of tears and tantrums. Tennis For Kids fixtures provides a safe environment for children to experience losing and learn how to do it with grace and good sportsmanship.  Over time, children in our programs learn to accept a loss graciously, learn from it and then try again.  Equally important, when the children win, they learn to to do so with grace and humility – It’s ok to be excited and proud of yourself but no bragging or boasting!     

At the time of writing, I personally have 3 children aged from 5 to 11 years.  All my children learn tennis, and it is not because I want them to be professional players! 

My children learn tennis because I believe this sport can help teach them important life lessons  – In my opinion this is the true value of kids sports.