Have you heard the phrase “coaches are from Mars, parents are from Venus”? No? OK – I used a little bit of poetic licence! It comes from the book “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus”, which advertises itself as a “Practical Guide for Improving Communication and Getting What You Want in Your Relationships”. To me that sounds pretty much spot on for tennis coaches too!
The coach / parent relationship is critical but because coaches and parents see things from different perspectives, there is plenty of room for coaches and parents to improve communication and get more from their relationships too!
If you’ve some of my other articles, you’ll know that:
- I think that parents are hugely important in the player development process
- Coaches need to understand more about the value and importance of helping parents understand what’s going on and why they do what they do the way they do it
- If parents don’t understand or if they misunderstand, then coaches have to take at least some of the responsibility.
The bottom line is that if people aren’t told things, they will probably come to their own conclusions, and it’s highly likely that they’ll come to the wrong conclusions. That doesn’t help anyone.
Take a look at the examples below. On the left is a list of statements or comments which many coaches will find themselves making about 10U players. On the right is an alternative interpretation from the parents’ side.
|“I have to treat all the kids the same”||“I only care about my child”|
|“he is not good enough”||“he is good enough”|
|“he lost”||“the opponent cheated”|
|“he tried hard”||“he lost!”|
|“your child needs to play with an red ball”||“you are treating my child like a baby!”|
|“your daughter needs to develop her coordination”||“why aren’t you teaching my daughter tennis?”|
|“I understand long-term player development”||“you are not teaching him correctly”|
|“I want to pick other players for the team”||“you dropped my son/daughter!”|
First let’s be clear. It’s not about who’s right and wrong, even though you might look at some of the alternative statements and really believe that what the other person is saying is way off the mark. Do I believe that the statements by parents in the right hand column are correct?……..no! But do I understand why they say those things?………….absolutely!
My overriding principle when I think of our need for working better with parents is understanding:
- Understanding (even if you don’t agree) with the other person’s position or viewpoint
- Working to develop a relationship where understanding is pivotal
- Accepting alternative viewpoints, and being willing to compromise if necessary
Most of the comments on the right come from lack of understanding, and you know who’s fault that is!
So here are two appeals for greater understanding:
- Coaches – if you hear the type of stuff in the right column, understand why they say that but look in the mirror and wake up to the fact that you probably haven’t taken the time to educate your parents in player development
- Parents – if you find yourself saying similar to the stuff in the right column, please take the time to discuss it with your coach how you can understand more, and let the coach make his decisions and do his job. He is very unlikely to have anything against your child, but he has to do his job!
So, coaches are from Mars and parents are from Venus. Does it matter?…………………no, as long as we accept that both see things from a different view point, and that the differences are discussed. Why is it so important? Because at the heart of it a young child who just wants to play tennis!