On face value this is such a simplistic question that most of us rarely take a moment to pause to ask ourselves and consider our respective milestones to pillars we’ve reached over various timelines. If you’re reading and can relate, you’re not alone. I’d like to say it is systematic but it’s also not ‘really’ the case, however can be argued that due to such a lack of awareness around child development and the importance of value and positive feedback — or witnessing our parents share this, how would we know any better?
This is true for me, anyway. I cannot recall a time when I heard either of my parents proclaim or share with me that they were and/or are proud of themselves. In later years, I faintly recall hearing it a handful of times, but not as a child or adolescent. Unfortunately, it should come as no surprise then that this was also my experience as a chid — seldom told by my parents that they were proud of me. Rather, it was an expectation to succeed and try your hardest. And whilst it would have been nice to know they were proud even when I didn’t get the result I was after on the tennis court, this wasn’t the case. As such, I fell into the trap as a child that my value was tied to my results simply so I’d get a ‘proud’ moment, which was still incredibly rare.
Now I could lay blame on my parents for not sharing this, however this could be a little bit too critical. If they had never been taught the value and power of this form of communication and encouragement to thoughtfulness and sharing this particular positive feedback, how were they to know? Of course it is a very different story when this is shared later in life. If a parent is given the nudge by their child to say “hey, this matters to me” or “hearing that from you means a lot” or a handful of other phrases, you get the gist — there’s no excuse for not showing up and using your words to have such a profound affect.
So where am I going with this? It’s so important to remember that every tennis player is a child in some way, shape or form. Whether they’re an adolescent to young adult, these problems are real. And I’ll say problem because it really is problematic when it crushes a child’s self-belief to impacts on their self-worth when their results are tied to merely their performance.
This is where the coach comes in. Communicating with your players that you are proud of them — from making it to 100 balls in a row or winning three games in a set, it’s the incremental milestones that count and build towards the bigger ones. And if you’re a coach that didn’t experience this as a child, as I’ve shared, let me tell you this — it is even more rewarding to share! But to get to this place, be sure to take a moment, or seven to ask yourself if you’re proud of yourself and get comfortable with sharing those thoughts with yourself. Not only will this better position you to communicate with yours players/athletes, it’ll also start to have a profound impact on your own self-worth to self-belief. In other words, either way — you’ve got this!
Tune in to Beyond Top 10 Tennis for this week’s episode to learn more. And if you enjoy the episode, be sure to like, follow to subscribe or even a few stars or five! In the interim, catch up on the episode notes for all of our social links (or simply scroll to the bottom of this page).